Passengers and motorists should look out for changes to the Downtown Ferry Terminal over the next two weeks, as stage one of the $10.5m terminal upgrade reaches completion and services move back to Pier 1.The Waiheke ferry terminal on the city side has been for years an absolute disgrace. Marketing Waiheke as a boutique, upmarket destination has always been an uphill battle because confronting first-time and foreign visitors with Pier 2 always causes no little embarrassment. There never were any facilities on that wind and rain-swept creaking outpost in the harbour, the shelter sheds usually reeks of urine and the whole ambiance (from slashed seating to chaotic disembarking and embarking) always gave the ferry terminal an African flavour - my apologies to any African ports where ferry passengers are treated better than in Auckland. The only things missing are the chickens and livestock waiting to be transported.
The upgrade is being managed by the Auckland Regional Transport Network Limited (ARTNL), in which Auckland City is the majority shareholder.
Motorists, visitors and passengers should watch for signage showing new pick-up and drop-off locations and changes to vehicle and pedestrian traffic movements around the terminal, as Pier 2 closes to allow for stage two of the terminal upgrade to begin.
As of Wednesday 9 February public drop-off and pick-up areas, motorcycle and bicycle parking and taxi ranks will move permanently from Pier 2 across to new areas on Pier 1, says Simon Laird, ARTNL’s transport and operations executive.
The really insulting aspect is the fact that ferry passengers pay a "wharf fee" on top of their tickets, which in reality is a "congestion charge" - you pay for the usage of a transport infrastructure on top of the fare for the actual transportation method. This also makes the ferry trip one of the more expensive ones in the world, although this is caused in large part by the lack of competition and the iron monopolistic grip of Stagecoach/Fullers.
In all, the planned improvements look good on the plans, but why can't I shake off a nagging that says we will be whacked with another dose of fare/fee/wharf charge increases to pay for it all. "Koru Club" facilities and perks for season ticket holders ($245 per month!) will no doubt be too much to ask for in return - Fullers objects to even using the milk on board for your home-brewed coffee.