Thursday, December 18, 2014

Competition, but not as we know it

Two months of full competition on the Waiheke run and it has certainly not been without hitches and newbie pains.
The Explore Centurion boat is performing below par due to diesel engine problems, taking 40-45 minutes to get there, causing the Explore evening rush hour timetable to be amended. The 5:15 ex-AKL now sails at 5:35 and if you counted on getting the Fullers bus meeting the 5:30pm Fullers service at Matiatia, you are out of luck as you can see the buses pull up the hill to Oneroa before you have docked. I guess Fullers can't believe its luck sticking it to all you apostates leaving the Fullers Death Star.
Hopefully, the new Explore boat will be in service soon so Centurion can be retired to back-up service.
Also, the precipitous drop in diesel prices has yet to show up in a drop in fares - watch the reverse not be the case in the future, of course. Passengers need a fares war sooner rather than later. We've been waiting for 14 years now. Bring it on.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fullers, Explore, Sea Link finally competing for Waiheke

For years we have campaigned for an end to the Fullers Ferries monopoly on the Waiheke Island service. And all of a sudden, two competitors have turned up in the same weekend. Welcome Explore, which will provide a 7 day service (although not very late at night, and also no island bus service), and Sea Link, which only runs at weekends for tourists. All also offer very different fare structures and deals, check their websites, which makes it a little byzantine to figure out what is best for you and your travel needs. A proper fare integration in the form of monthly flat rate Hop Passes for all buses, trains and ferries, is still a long way off. But it's a start and prices have started falling already, as they should in a proper market. Here is the full current timetable for sailings by all operators. Matiatia will be busier than usual - and that's even without the proposed marina clutter.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The disintegration of the Waiheke Fullers monthly pass - AT's response

This is what I got in response from Auckland Transport, 18 days after sending the initial email:
Subject: Fullers Monthly Passes
Customer Reference Number: CAS-145438

Thank you for your feedback regarding the pending changes to Fullers Monthly Pass services.  At the outset I apologise for the delay in responding to your queries.

The Waiheke Ferry Monthly Pass was implemented some years ago when Fullers and NZ Bus were owned by the same parent company, which is no longer the case.  With the transition to AT HOP, Fullers and NZ Bus along with other operators have taken the opportunity to review the commercial arrangements they have in place with each other for some products that allows travel with different operators on one ticket, as they each transition to the new system. 

While the new system could accommodate such passes, in this case NZ Bus and Fullers have decided not to continue with the city based bus travel component on the Waiheke Ferry Monthly Pass.  Auckland Transport is aware this affects a small number of people who have been utilising the features of this Pass and our contact centre staff will be happy to assist commuters in working out the most cost effective travel option.  However, I can confirm the Waiheke Ferry Monthly Pass will continue to offer unlimited travel on all Waiheke Bus Company services.   

Fares for the Waiheke Island ferry service are set by Fullers, Auckland Transport is not responsible for these fares as this is not a subsidised service.

At this stage bus and train travel in the city may require ferry commuters to have two payment methods for travel – an AT HOP card and a Fullers Galaxy ticket.  Auckland Transport acknowledges these changes may bring increased costs for some commuters however we are currently working with Fullers to introduce more products to the AT HOP card which incorporate Ferry travel including daily and monthly passes.  Customer can sign up to receive the latest updates regarding AT HOP on our website here: http://at.uq.co.nz/signup/
I trust this information is of use to you.  Thank you again for taking to the time to provide your feedback to Auckland Transport
In summary: suck it up, Waiheke rich bitches. If you can't afford to live/commute, move back to the mainland. Fullers again gets off scot-free, with revenue intact and no commercial consequences for pissing all over its customers. Life in the capitalist monopoly world with a compliant regulator is sweet.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The disintegration of the Waiheke Fullers monthly pass

I have sent this to Auckland Transport feedback site. I recommend you do a similar thing.

From 1 January, Waiheke Fullers monthly pass holders will no longer be able to use bus services from NZ Bus on the mainland. This is an AT decision. Despite this cut in service access, Fullers has decided to keep the price of the monthly pass the same.
What needs to happen:
Either - 1. Fullers drops the monthly pass price by between $80 and $140 (the cost of a monthly Hop pass for buses on the mainland)
Or - 2. Fullers or AT gives monthly Hop passes to monthly Fullers pass holders until such time this cock up is sorted by a the issue of a monthly Hop pass valid for all travel including Waiheke.
I don't see why passengers should pay for the dysfunctionality between Fullers and AT.

UPDATE 16DEC: I got an acknowledgement from AT that they have received my query and have forwarded it to the relevant 'business unit' (this is two weeks after sending it off to them). They will try to respond within 10 working days. By then we will have lost our integrated monthly pass. Good work Fullers/AT.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fullers ups all fares at the start of the tourism season

From 1 November all Fullers fares on the Waiheke ferry run will increase by just under 2% (there is one small mercy: dogs will still be carried free). The complete list of changes is in this PDF file.
Since you know us as complete cynics, we suspect they are pre-financing the new ferry due next year (despite strenuous promises by a former Local Board member it will arrive this November) by charging passengers extra that will cover the construction and commission cost. But we also hear the usual protestations of the annual litany of increased labour and fuel costs and increased wharf berthing charges (presumably not covered by the wharf tax already in place). Our hearts bleed every year too.

Meanwhile, still no fare integration with the rest of Auckland public transport (especially trains) and we have seen the introduction of a separate Galaxy card, with its attendant teething problems (one morning my card refused to be read and the Fullers employee looked scoldingly at me as if that was my problem). Why we don't have Auckland-wide, all mode Hop Cards is still a mystery.

There was also the little survey that was doing the rounds on a possible later Sunday night sailing from town at 10:30pm and from Waiheke at 11:30pm. This is long overdue but Fullers is owned by a Scottish Presbyterian who would prefer us to be in bed by sundown to be well-rested for the looming working week. Weekend tourists surely wouldn't mind a later sailing back to mediocrity.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fullers ticketing to change

I only found out this morning thanks to a casual remark by a fellow commuter but, from next month, the monthly pass will be split into two options: a regular monthly pass you purchase before the 1st and valid for a calendar month on ferries and buses, and a 30-day pass you can buy at any time but only covers ferry travel.
What you need to do is re-register with Fullers (have your picture taken to be issued a new pass) soon as the queues will be massive to register.
It's all to do with swiping technology that will be brought in.
No word on whether the passes will be swipable on the Hop machines on Auckland buses.
Nor on whether there will be any pricing differences between the two options. Will it be another opportunity for Fullers to up the monthly pass price with the fob off that you can always get a cheaper 30 day one?
Also, it's unclear whether you an buy a monthly pass after the 1st of the month.
As things usually go with the introduction of new technology, expect queues and delays for registering and swiping. A relief is that you can actually buy your pass online in the future.
The PR about this major change and upheaval has been woeful so far. See if you can get through the prose on their website.
Now how about that onboard wi-fi they've been promising us for a year now?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Regional Public Tansport Plan recommendations

Auckland Transport has released all the submissions made by the public, local boards, corporations, and others on its Draft Public Transport Plan. Also the Panel Hearings Report.
Reading through the submissions, only a few refer to Waiheke Island, most of them in line with my own submission regards Waiheke's inclusion into the proposed far zone structure and the integration of Fullers into the system. Some older residents are screaming blue murder about a possible curtailment of their Supergold card freebie after 3:00pm.
In corporate submissions, Fullers, of course, makes the point that fares need to be sky high as they 'subsidise' commuter and year round island trips. No proof of this was provided (See the Campbell Live TV interview debacle on the probe into Fullers fare policy and supergold card subsidy loot).
The Waiheke Local Board submission is brief, but makes good points on island bus services and the wharf tax. It is, however, silent on how to tackle Fullers' privileged position and how to integrate its services with the rest of Auckland public transport.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Summer's atrocious service now to be charged to Waihekeans

After an atrocious Summer for passenger experience on Fullers ferries, with several vessels more than occasionally out of service, Quickcat laid up for a Summer rest and multiple smaller boats overloaded to cope with the crowds wanting to share the buzz on the island, the cash flow must have been a bumper one, judging by the TV performance of the company's CEO on Campbell Live the other day, swatting away any criticism of being an overpriced monopoly sucking on the supergold card subsidy teat. Now that Quickcat is back in service, with an expensive engine repaired, the costs have to be recouped lest the Souter kids go hungry, the monthly pass fare in April is set to rise by 10% to $355 $350, according to the Fullers fares website.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Waihekeans should be so lucky!

Via Auckland Transport blog:
Three weeks on from the launch of the new Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services, patronage is showing good growth above initial forecasts with 26% above forecast for week one (317 passenger journeys); 68% for week two (422 journeys) and 56% for week three (232 journeys for three days).
Capitalising on this beginning, Auckland Transport is offering a special price deal for all trips on the Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services to encourage more people to try the service. Special prices are available from 25 February until 24 May 2013.
Auckland Transport’s Manager of Public Transport, Mark Lambert says “It’s been a good start for the new services. We’re looking to stimulate further growth with the special fares helping promote the services and attract more people who may not have been public transport users previously.
“Ferry travel is a very pleasant and time-saving travel option for those working or studying in the city as well as those looking to travel for leisure”, says Mr Lambert
The Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services run two morning and three afternoon sailings each week day.
A bus service departing from Westgate connects with ferry sailings at Hobsonville.

Meanwhile, back on Waiheke, we can look forward to another week of dread in the run up to 1 March. Will Fullers up its monthly fares by $30 in anticipation of paying off the lost revenue due to the 6-month-long out-of-servcie Quickcat? If they do, there is no poin in contacting Mr Lambert to get a similar deal as the North-Westies. Auckland Transport is ball-less when it comes to Fullers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend madness

I really should have known better but it was unavoidable today but to take the 11:00am sailing to Waiheke with the huge hordes of tourists. Luckily it was Superflyte, it even left on time and didn't make that useless and annoying detour via Devonport. So far so good.
The trouble started on Matiatia wharf where the throng of tourists really don't have a clue where to go or what to do. The signs are abominable and mostly lacking anyway and the East German style public address system announcing what gate to proceed to for the preferred experience is unhelpful.
Why are there no proper destination signs at the bus stop line up? It wouldn't cost much to clearly indicate where line 1, 2 and 4 go to and where the touring buses are. Do we really need to teach Auckland Transport how to suck eggs?
Loading up the regular buses took forever (about 30 minutes before they actually started moving) due to passenger confusion and endless questions to the driver. Why can't Fullers sell return tickets to various points of the island and include it in the ferry fare? This would make boarding buses faster due no more fumbling with wrong change.