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Ferry costs muddy waters

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 07:29 08/02/2013
Catamaran
Jess Etheridge
SETTING SAIL: An 80-seater catamaran carries passengers across the new Beach Haven to Hobsonville route.
Opening ferry crossing
NEW CROSSING: Prime Minister John Key and Auckland mayor Len Brown at the opening for the Beach Haven and Hobsonville Point ferry terminals.

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Forcing ferry users to pay premium prices while bus and train commuters get a generous discount is not the way to build the world's most liveable city, Auckland mayor Len Brown says.

Mr Brown admits there is work to do around ferry pricing after two terminals at Beach Haven and Hobsonville were opened at the weekend.

It costs an adult travelling from Auckland to Beach Haven $8 cash fare one-way.

For the same travel time on a bus it costs $4.50.

"We've got work to do around ferry pricing, and public transport pricing per se," Mr Brown says.

"At the very least we want to deliver a public transport system that is at least cost neutral for people in their use, as against their use of a car."

The new terminals cost under $5 million to build and were officially opened by the mayor and Prime Minister John Key.

Getting more people off the roads will only work if fares are worthwhile, Mr Brown says.

"People have got to not only have options of use but they've got to be appropriately priced and so we know there is work yet to be done on that.

"But we want to encourage more and more people to use public transport, unclog our roads and make this an even more liveable city and on that basis pricing will be something we hold under constant review."

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh confronted Auckland Transport at its regional public transport plan hearing on January 30 over unfair pricing. She believes fare pricing should be equal across each service.

An Auckland Council spokesman says a 23 per cent discount is available on ferries using an AT HOP card.

Around 1000 people turned up for the opening ceremony at Hobsonville where local iwi welcomed guests to the $3.2m terminal.

Beach Haven's terminal cost $1.2m and was the first project completed using Auckland Transport's discretionary transport funding budget.

The Kaipatiki Local Board lobbied Auckland Transport last year for it because Beach Haven had been without a ferry service since the 1970s.

In his speech, Mr Key paid tribute to the three men who died in last year's tornado in Hobsonville, which tore through the community and left many homeless.

He said the Government is spending $1 billion a year on Auckland and he congratulated the council on completing the terminals at a low cost.

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The prime minister cleared the podium for "the singing mayor" Len Brown who said Auckland has been renowned as a city which has made "bad decisions" and completed projects "only half-baked".

Mr Brown cited the Auckland Harbour Bridge as one of these decisions.

Mrs Waugh said: "This terminal will give our community direct access to the public transport hub at Britomart and, before too long, the city rail link."

- North Shore Times

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