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Source: Fullers360

Fullers360 welcomes the publication of Waka Kotahi’s recommendation to the Minister of Transport following its review of the exempt status of the Waiheke Island ferry service, which concludes that the test under section 150 of the Land Transport Management Act 2003 has not been met and that its exempt status should continue.

Mike Horne, Fullers360 Chief Executive, says, “Fullers360 believes the continuation of an exemption for the Waiheke Island ferry service offers the best option for Auckland, particularly given the cost of providing the service in its current format, which would be costly for ratepayers, and Fullers360’s ability and commitment to continue investment in its fleet, workforce, and operations”.

Fullers360 believes there are no barriers for the government or local government to subsidise the Waiheke Island service or to fund ferry fares for specific ferry users on an exempt service such as the Waiheke Island route, on which approximately 20% of Waiheke Island residents already access free ferry travel.

“To make the service commercially viable, Fullers360 would require funding to provide reduced fares. That is why we continue to advocate for further subsidies with central and local government for the specific benefit of the Waiheke Island community and to support public transport equivalent fares for residents and commuters,” says Mr Horne.

The final recommendation is based on an extensive 18-month review process, which included the commission of two independent reports by Waka Kotahi. Critical to the outcome of this process, Deloitte[1] found that Fullers360 profit margin is normal, and the business is not making super normal profits. Sapere[2] determined there is competitive rivalry for customers on the downtown Auckland to Matiatia on Waiheke Island passenger route.

Fullers360 believes these findings clearly demonstrate that it provides an equitable service for its diverse range of passengers.

“The conclusion of Waka Kotahi’s review enables Fullers360 to move forward with certainty around this service after a lengthy period of uncertainty, and to solidify our commitment to an optimal operating model that will continue to serve the Waiheke Island community, Aucklanders, and visitors, as we deliver our vision for the future of ferry services,” says Mr Horne.

“Fullers360 understands the conclusion of the Waka Kotahi review will not address every concern raised by members of the public, however, we hope the outcome and the findings in the independent reports provide a strong fact-base to underpin constructive collaboration with government and the Waiheke Island community to explore additional solutions, including further subsidies.”