Waiheke’s exclusion from the government’s half-price public transport fares scheme announced this month served as a catalyst for several politicians to contact Transport Minister Michael Wood.

Although island bus users can enjoy half-price tickets, ferry users are missing out. As a result, Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick, Labour MP Helen White and Waiheke Local Board Chairperson Cath Handley are all pushing for an update on the review of the public transport operating model, which excludes Waiheke ferry services.

Because of the exclusion, Waiheke users keep missing out on the support that’s available to many other ferry users in the region, such as the government’s recent half-price announcement, AT’s free weekend ferry fares for children and an upcoming trial of 50 percent fare reduction for community service cardholders.

Local Board Chairperson Cath Handley says it was an irrational decision to leave Waiheke services out of the public transport operating model (PTOM) when it was set up by the National Government more than 10 years ago.

A review of the highly scrutinised operating model, which governs the way public transport is managed and funded, was launched in 2019.

“Part of our PTOM review is looking at whether the reasons for exempting certain services stack up,” Minister Wood told Gulf News early last year.

“I am aware of the strong views of many people on Waiheke about this issue and am ensuring that the issues for island ferry users are considered in this process.”

However, since May 2021, when board chair Cath Handley met with the minister, few updates have been provided.

Handley says she’s seen several instances this year where Waiheke’s PTOM exclusion has put the community at a serious disadvantage and, in a letter to Minister Wood last week, she noted recent cuts to the passenger ferry service. • Sophie Boladeras

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