Auckland Transport to cut some bus and ferry services

Source: 1News

Auckland Transport announced today it is cutting services across the region in response to Auckland Council’s reduced Emergency Budget and changing customer demand. 

Mark Lambert from Auckland Transport talks about the rollout of 53 double-decker buses in the city from October.

From Christmas Eve, ferry services in Stanley Bay would cease. Services would be moved to the Hobsonville Point service from January next year. 

Mark Lambert, AT executive general manager of integrated networks, said the move recognised that Stanley Bay had low patronage, while demand at Hobsonville was “growing significantly”. 

“AT understands this will be disappointing for Stanley Bay ferry users, but recognises that alternative options exist,” he said.

Bus in central Auckland (file picture).

“With limited availability of vessels and budget constraints, it allows AT to meet growing demand at Hobsonville Point… without increasing Council and central government public subsidy expenditure.”

Lambert said two additional services would be added each morning and afternoon from Hobsonville, as well as increased frequency on some bus routes. 

Meanwhile, peak-only 728 and 729 bus services will stop from December this year. 

Lambert said the Emergency Budget required Auckland Transport cut costs by $10 million in public transport operating expenditure compared to Auckland Council’s pre-pandemic budget. 

That’s despite the Emergency Budget introducing an overall rates increase of 3.5 per cent, against the wishes of most submitters to the Council’s budget consultation

The 3.5 per cent option was finalised and voted by 18 of the 21 of the councillors in July. It aimed to plug some of Auckland Council’s $750 million fiscal hole brought on by the pandemic.

Lambert said less than 0.5 per cent of passengers would be affected by the changes, which focused on services that had low patronage. 

He said in areas like the rural north and south, public transport services have been kept because the communities had limited other options.  

The majority of those affected had good public transport alternatives, Lambert said

“AT is seeking to deliver a public transport system that meets the needs of our customers, within the constraints of the Emergency Budget,” he said.

“We acknowledge that some customers will, unfortunately, be inconvenienced by the required changes, but we are focusing on removing or reducing services where good alternatives exist for those affected.”