The days of Fullers being exempt from regulatory oversight of their Waiheke route appear numbered, according to Minister of Transport Michael Wood. 

After a decade of lobbying from interest groups like the Waiheke Ferry User Group and the local board, central government has confirmed the Fullers Waiheke and Devonport routes will now come under the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM), meaning cheaper fares for ferry users. Fullers last week decided to raise its prices by 8.4 per cent, after reporting operating losses of up to $67,000 a day during the pandemic.  Many commuters commenting on Facebook’s Waiheke Community Notice Board thought the rises were particularly ill-timed. They alarmed many who are already struggling with the cost of living increases.

Cath says she is “absolutely gutted for our residents”. 

“Through our budgeting service, we already know about the increase of foodbank assistance moving to middle-income people, that mortgages are rising, and that food prices and basics are rising in price. These price rises will be insurmountable for many families with one or more commuters – for instance, our nurses and midwives who travel to Auckland hospital, our commuting school teachers, central city retailers and our tertiary students. They have fixed incomes and no latitude in many households.” 

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Minister Wood said he and his predecessor’s approach had been to “strongly encourage Fullers and Auckland Transport to reach an agreement themselves” but indicated that he would intervene if such an arrangement could not be met in a timely manner. 

The development was announced by Waiheke Local Board Cath Handley on 27 June, via social media. Speaking to Gulf News, Cath said it should soon be apparent when the changes will be implemented, “some answers, like timing, who gets the benefits, and so on will be forthcoming over the next short while. The minister and I were both deeply involved in Matariki observations in the weekend and getting his confirmation he has initiated the PTOM process, and also that it was OK for me to let our community know, were both very significant.” • Jim Birchall

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!


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