Sealink could face some healthy competition as early as next year with a new electric ferry proposal gaining traction.
Spearheaded by Sea Waiheke, the service would initially operate using one newly built electric ferry, which would hold 35 vehicles and up to 150 passengers.
The e-ferry, equipped with e-bike chargers, would travel between a purpose-built floating barge at Ōrākei Landing and Waiheke’s Kennedy Point terminal.
Simon Jones, the spokesperson for Sea Waiheke, says he and the team behind the proposal see the service as a boutique operation, although a key aspect will be competitive ticket pricing.
“We are acutely aware of current pricing and a key proposition for us is to bring value to the market. We would certainly be competitive,” says Jones.
“Competition is essential to drive innovation and value. We think Sealink and Fullers are great operators, but we can add to it.”
Despite the praise, Sea Waiheke also says in its proposal that it’s aware of ongoing public frustration and dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the company is hoping to give users another option.
At the start of its proposed operations, around 10 to 15 staff positions would need to be filled, says Jones. But first, building the company’s inaugural electric ferry, designed by Sea Transport Solutions, will likely take around nine months and Sea Waiheke will be tendering for a manufacturer this year.
The vessel design will enable vehicles to drive on one end and off the other, making loading faster and safer than older vessels.
Sea Waiheke is hoping to expand its electric fleet to two vessels and increase sailings to an hourly service if everything goes to plan. • Sophie Boladeras
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