Date: 15 September 2023
In ferry good news, Auckland Transport (AT) is happy to announce it has contracted Explore Group to continue the operation of some recently cancelled Auckland commuter ferry services.
The tourism operator will take over operation of the Bayswater, and Birkenhead / Te Onewa Northcote Point ferry routes from October 1, on behalf of Auckland Transport.
The previous operator announced in August that they would cease operation of the services in October.
Auckland Transport’s Executive General Manager of Public Transport Services, Stacey van der Putten, says this exciting new partnership will help to provide a reliable service for valued customers.
“We are so happy to have Explore on board as a new operator for public transport, on a regular scheduled commuter timetable.”
William Goodfellow, Managing Director of Explore Group, says taking over the ferry service was a natural next step for the company.
“It will complement our growing range of tourism services available for people to experience Tikapa Moana - the Hauraki Gulf.
“When we heard the service was ceasing operation, we decided to commit a near new vessel from our Australian business, Explore Group Australia, and we are currently modifying her to improve her capacity as a commuter vessel - including increasing bike storage and providing accessible access.
“This will be arriving later in October, and we are fortunate that we can temporarily deploy Discovery IV, from our fleet in the Bay of Islands. This is a vessel that has previously worked successfully on the network.”
Councillor Richard Hills says securing a new operator for these valued services is positive news for the Bayswater, Birkenhead, and Northcote communities.
“It’s great that they will continue to connect across the Waitematā Harbour to the city centre and beyond. Although the frequency of service is still not what our communities expect, our goal is to increase the number of services at peak - as soon as crew availability and resources allow.”
Councillor Chris Darby says growing the operating partner choice is good news for building towards a more robust ferry network.
“The introduction of Explore Group to Auckland’s public transport market brings about a step change in providing greater reliability for long suffering ferry users. Explore transfer a wealth of experience in Australia and New Zealand ferry tourism, to provide a new foundation for overdue improvements in commuter ferry services.”