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Ferries have a much bigger role to play

Media release – February 27, 2008

Ferries have a much bigger role to play in public transport

With the right support and encouragement, ferries can make a greater contribution to public transport patronage in Auckland, says the city’s biggest ferry operator.

Fullers Group CEO Douglas Hudson says, if the right moves are made, ferries could be carrying more passengers on existing routes and opening up new routes to swell passenger numbers by more than 1.5 million in the foreseeable future.

Fullers, which has a fleet of 10 modern, high-speed vessels, today published its first annual review of operations, and Mr Hudson says the company sees a bright outlook for ferries in the city.

Mr Hudson says people enjoy commuting by ferry. However, appropriate all-weather shore facilities, parking and feeder buses are needed if Auckland is to make better use of the harbour and gulf to battle congestion on the road network.

Among the future expansion of ferry routes envisaged in the ‘Looking Forward’ review, are new services down the East Coast Bays to Takapuna and on to the CBD, as well as a service to the eastern suburbs beaches, and another running down the Tamaki River to serve Panmure, Point England and Glendowie.

“Once ferries were slow and transport by bus and private car was much faster, but with road congestion, environmental concerns and much faster ferries, travel by water is enjoying an international renaissance,” says Mr Hudson.

“We already carry almost as many passengers in Auckland as the rail service, and with the right support we can carry many more.”

Fullers today carry almost four million passengers annually. Mr Hudson believes Fullers’ existing routes have the potential to be carrying around 18% more people in five years time, roughly 718,000 annually.

If the envisaged new routes were to become a reality, once they are fully operational they could increase patronage by a further 21%, or almost one million passengers (988,722). Such increases mean Fullers could potentially be carrying around 5.7 million passengers a year.

Mr Hudson says other ferry operators will no doubt also see scope for expansion of the services they run.

From an international perspective, ferry services in Auckland compare very favourably with those in Brisbane and Sydney.

The ferry operator in Brisbane receives almost double the per passenger subsidy figure paid in Auckland, and the Sydney operator receives nearly seven times as much. Despite this Auckland’s ferry operators carry a larger percentage of public transport users than in either Sydney or Brisbane.

In Auckland, the dominant public transport mode is bus, which last year carried 42.9million passengers. Having received a subsidy of $68.6 million, this works out as a per passenger subsidy of $1.59.

The rail service carried 5.24 million passengers and received a subsidy of $34.8 million, equating to $6.64 per passenger.

In comparison a total of 4.2 million people travelled by ferry, and altogether the ferry operators received a subsidy of $3.6 million. This equates to a per passenger subsidy of $0.84. (Note: Bus and ferry per passenger subsidy were calculated by dividing the total subsidy received by the total number of passengers for all services, whether subsidised or not).

Mr Hudson says he is pleased the Auckland Regional Transport Authority is budgeting to increase the money it spends on ferries.

Fullers itself has highlighted its commitment to the Auckland region, investing $5 million in two new catamarans last year.

In addition, planning for a new boat has commenced which, if it goes ahead, will be a purpose-built 450-passenger catamaran involving an investment of around $7 million.

With such high cost and delays involved in either sourcing and purchasing suitable ferries internationally, or building brand new boats, Mr Hudson says ferry operators need long-term contracts on subsidised services.

Copies of the annual review are available for download on the company’s website ( or from Fullers’ ticket offices.

To view the review click follow the link below:


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