A local MP supports a proposal to confiscate the Waiheke ferry services from Fullers and hand them over to Auckland Transport.
National Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said “I think we all had really high hopes when Explore was in the market that we’d get better services but when the company dropped out, it was very clear to me that things had to change.”
Explore introduced competition that resulted in more frequent sailings and improved services. That company said that AT’s ongoing failure to provide a level playing field in the allocation of wharf slots and on-Island bus services was a contributing factor to its decision to terminate the service.
The MP’s supported proposal would seem to prevent any possibility of future open competition and to have the ferry services run as a regulated monopoly by the same organisation responsible for parking at Matiatia.
There is no known commitment from AT to reduce fares. There is no acceptance from Auckland Council that ratepayers should subsidise Waiheke ferry fares. There is no known assurance that frequency of sailings would be improved or even maintained.
It is highly likely that any regulated operator would keep investment to the minimum required to hold on to the regulated monopoly, in the knowledge that its property ran the risk of being confiscated, without compensation, by proposals such as that supported by the MP.
Ms Kaye was quoted as saying that she “would be presenting the petition to parliament on behalf of Waiheke Island.” The Ferry Users Group of Waiheke makes it very clear that Ms Kaye does not represent its views. Chairman Daniel Silva said, “We are concerned that this ill-considered proposal has the potential to seriously impair the current and future Waiheke ferry services on which the Island depends.”
UPDATE: We received this message from Nikki Kaye MP.
“I am presenting the petition on this issue as it’s an important role that I undertake as a local MP.
“I am personally supportive of improvements regarding ferry infrastructure and services and that’s why I am supportive of this petition opening up this conversation.
“With regard to the specific option in the petition I think it’s one option but there could be a number of ways to achieve improvements. I am open minded at this stage about removing the exemption and I am not ruling anything out until the issues have been thoroughly discussed and islanders and people have their voice heard on these issues.”