Commuters love their ferry but want more and better times

AMY BAKER/STUFF.CO.NZ

Commuters talk about their experiences on the Hobsonville Point ferry.

Faced with sitting in gridlock or riding the waves, catching the ferry to and from work seems the obvious choice.

At least, it is for West Auckland commuters using the ferry service from Hobsonville Point. 

Point resident Riarna Donaldson said she loved the ferry and had made friends with other commuters. 

Riarna Donaldson on the 6.55am ferry to work.
Amy Baker

Riarna Donaldson on the 6.55am ferry to work.

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"It's a beautiful, beautiful way to travel to and from work. The sunrises in the morning are incredible, and we've had dolphins follow us."

Leesa Robinson of West Harbour has many photos on her phone of early morning rides and said it was a "fantastic way to start the day".

Commuters said the ferry was a relaxed and peaceful start to the day.
Amy Baker

Commuters said the ferry was a relaxed and peaceful start to the day.

"It's quick, it's only 30 minutes from here to the middle of town - no way I drive that fast at 8am."

However, the commuters said they've had to adjust their work hours to suit the ferry timetable, as there are only two scheduled sailings in the morning and three in the afternoon.

For Robinson, the early sailing time of 6.55am - with the next ferry not until 8am - means she has to arrange for her daughter to be dropped at care just before it opens at 7am.

Leesa Robinson said she's always photographing the beautiful morning views, but the ferry times are a bit "out".
Amy Baker

Leesa Robinson said she's always photographing the beautiful morning views, but the ferry times are a bit "out".

Despite working on Queen St, Robinson said she also needed to arrange to leave work before 5pm to catch the earlier ferry. 

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"Getting to a 5.15pm ferry if you finish work at 5pm is really, really tight. If it was just at 5.20pm or even 5.25pm, it's only a small distance but it gives you 15 minutes from the time you finish work to get to the ferry."

The main afternoon sailings are at 5.15pm and 6.15pm.

There are two morning and three afternoon sailings.
Amy Baker

There are two morning and three afternoon sailings.

Donaldson is an experienced ferry rider, having caught the West Harbour ferry prior to moving to the point. 

However, since changing services she's also had to change her hours at work to 7.30am-3.30pm to make the 4.05pm service home.  

"We need more ferries, desperately."

Donaldson says commuters use the West Harbour ferry as an alternative.
Amy Baker

Donaldson says commuters use the West Harbour ferry as an alternative.

Donaldson said Hobsonville Point residents sometimes use the West Harbour ferry instead, which runs around every 20 minutes at peak times.

However, she said the flow on effect was that the West Harbour ferry was often full, and people were getting turned away.

If she needs to stay in town after work, she said getting home via Uber was the only option. 

Lauren Potter said she felt better for catching the ferry.
Amy Baker

Lauren Potter said she felt better for catching the ferry.

Commuter Lauren Potter catches the ferry around four times a week and said, while she hadn't had to re-arrange her work hours, she started and finished each day to fit in with sailings. 

She said her employer understood, but she did make up any missed time in her lunch break.

"We've only really got two options in the morning and three options in the evening, so you're a bit restricted in terms of timings."

AT is currently assessing what can be done with current sailings related to vessel size, service times and options for ...
Amy Baker

AT is currently assessing what can be done with current sailings related to vessel size, service times and options for addition service.

No ferries run at the weekend. 

Auckland Transport ferry services manager Gareth Willis said in an email statement the initial provision of services to and from Hobsonville Point were identified within available funding provision at the time, and also to cater for the expected demand from customers during the first stages of the housing development.

Willis said it was "excellent to see" patronage on the ferry route was continuing to grow, in line with projections before the service started four years ago.

The initial level of service was expected to sufficiently cater for demand in the first four to five years of service.

However, Willis said AT had been monitoring demand versus capacity provided, as they plan for the next stage in provision on the service.

He said there had been feedback from customers wanting additional services, but AT had not received much around amending the times of existing services.

AT is currently assessing what can be done with current sailings related to vessel size, service times and options for addition service.

Willis said this assessment would include a review of the option to slightly defer the time of the 5.15pm service. 

Regarding the West Harbour ferry service, he said AT was aware the use of the route was wider than just residents living in the immediate area and services and vessel sizes had increased. 

In March, need for more ferries at West Harbour was identified and back-up vessels were provided to ensure the majority could take their preferred service.

Eight Auckland ferry routes are currently undergoing tendering for new contracts and additional services are being priced as part of this. 

Despite changing their work schedules, all three commuters said the ferry was their preferred way to travel.

"You feel better for it," Potter said. 

 - North Harbour News

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