Cuts to Waiheke’s passenger ferry services are causing enormous disruption, according to local board chair Cath Handley.
She is planning to meet with Fullers in the next couple of weeks to push for some key commuter sailings to be brought back.
Meanwhile, a Fullers spokesperson told Gulf News this week that the company is aiming to bring back some sailings, although no exact timeframes were given.
“We are working towards being able to reintroduce services over the coming months while we work through the Covid-19 impacts, and when we are able to.”
The move to hourly sailings this March, which Fullers attributed to staff shortages and Covid-19 impacts, came as a shock to many commuters, and the effects of the reduced sailings were apparent during the final weekend of Sculpture on the Gulf, with queues of people stretching around the taxi rank.
Some visitors were unable to board the ferry they had planned on catching and were forced to wait for an hour to board the next.
Glenn Fowler of Island Magic tours and shuttles watched the scene unfold.
“I just dropped my clients off at 4.05pm for the 5pm ferry,” he said on Sunday. “The queue is up past the taxi rank; I appreciate Fullers have staffing issues but going to the one-hour service in March with the sculpture walk and fine weather was never going to work.”
With Easter fast approaching, many islanders are hopeful half-hourly sailings will be brought back.
The morning and afternoon commutes are also not as comfortable for many Covid-aware passengers on the busier hourly sailings.
At the March local board meeting, member and regular commuter Robin Tucker said the switch to hourly sailings was disappointing and that the change is affecting many ferry users who have had to adjust their schedules.
“To add salt to the wounds, while we are seeing ferry cuts to essential commuter services due to Covid-related issues, services to Hobsonville Point were increased. That area is already served by buses, taxis and private vehicles. It’s getting beyond ridiculous.”
• Sophie Boladera
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