Investigations will continue into a ferry service for Tauranga that will link Ōmokoroa, Mount Maunganui and the Tauranga City centre.
The findings of the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Ferries Feasibility Study were discussed by members of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Public Transport Committee on Thursday.
Council service planning and project delivery team leader Oliver Haycock says there is no short term “low risk, low cost” option for ferries that would likely be attractive to customers.
“The success of a ferry service was dependent on a number of moving parts, mainly infrastructure requirements to support the provision of services at Ōmokoroa, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga CBD.”
The frequency of services and the competitiveness of the journey relative to other modes are also factors, according to his report.
He says there will need to be two boats to deliver a level of service that would be “attractive to customers” which would come at “quite a high cost”.
“We would need to consider how viable that would be given the benefits it would bring,” says Haycock.
Initial cost analysis show capital costs would be between $8.8 million and $16.9m, and an operating subsidy between $1.6m - $7.8m would be required.
Regional councillor Janes Nees says she accepts there are short term barriers, but she is pleased work will continue on the feasibility study.
“So we’re in position to develop a business case, which potentially may allow service delivery once the required infrastructure is in place,” says Nees.
Tauranga City Council commissioner Stephen Selwood says he and the other commissioners are “very supportive” of encouraging alternative modes of transport including ferry services.
“The man in the street always asks the question, we’ve got this water, why aren’t we using it?” he says.
“We all know that there are enormous barriers to enabling this, notwithstanding the need for car parking, probably the most significant from the commuter point of view,” says Selwood.
He says there may be an opportunity to look for low cost low risk opportunities to “test the market”.
Tauranga City Council commissioner Stephen Selwood. John Borren/SunLive.
Selwood suggests the potential of using ferries to transport cruise ship passengers from the berth at the Mount Maunganui port terminal to the Tauranga City Centre to test the viability.
“Cruise ships come back in September and I’m just wondering whether there might be a low cost, low risk initiative to trial bringing cruise ship passengers across.”
Committee chairperson Andrew von Dadelszen agrees with Selwood that they need to keep an open mind for a low cost, low risk option.
He says if a cruise ship ferry trial were to occur, there wouldn’t be issues with car parking.
“The exciting thing about the resumption of cruise ships is that we won’t have the constraints of car parking,” says von Dadelszen.
The study identified that more than $1m in essential infrastructure upgrades were needed before the service could start being established.
Infrastructure for the ferries would be the responsibility of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Tauranga City Council, and funding was expected through each council's 2026-2030 Long-term Plans, according to the Haycock’s report.
Selwood says if regional council are interested in providing ferry services, there will be support from the commissioners to bring forward funding in the next long-term plan process, which was 2024.
The study found for the Ōmokoroa-CBD route, estimated capital costs to establish the service ranged from $4 million for an hourly peak time weekday service to about $9m for a 30-minute daily service. Operational costs varied between $1.5m and $7m a year.
For Mount Maunganui-CBD, capital costs range from about $5m to about $8m with operational costs between $1.3m to $4m a year.
A ferry from Ōmokoroa to the CBD could take 29 minutes compared to a peak time drive of up to 50 minutes. A ferry from Mount Maunganui to the CBD would take 14 minutes, compared to up to 22 minutes in the car, according to the study.
Local proposed ferry fares were $8 for the Ōmokoroa run and $5.50 for Mount Maunganui, in line with comparable Auckland ferry services.
Haycock says work is continuing on the feasibility study and he will report back to the committee once the draft is finalised.
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.