Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Inter-Island Treasure

This letter was published in an abridged form in the Sunday Star Times today November 24 , 2013.

With  the announcement that Clifford Bay,  Marlborough will not become the Ferry Port was universally acclaimed. For fifteen years the  proposal to shift the  port from Picton  had  hindered future  planning and much needed  investment.

  Colin Espiner in the Sunday Star-Times of Sunday 17 applauded this decision and called the line to be funded.
My thoughts are expressed in this letter to the Sunday Star-Times.

    The thirty year commitment to Picton as the South island terminal port provides certainty and real opportunity. Colin Espiner’s feature brings back pleasant memories of public service, constant challenges and aspirations about what the Interisland line should be.

Public transport advocates, tourism bodies, railwaymen, seafarers and unions have long advocated for a high quality ferry service across Cook Strait. Espiner’s call for this service to be funded accordingly is music to their ears.
Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of Cook Strait rail ferry services.

Profits have been taken by state and private owners, the mentality being it was a freight service and passengers were an afterthought is like a curate’s egg. One thing that is constant is the professionalism of the crews.

The stewards who served me and attended to my comforts when I recently travelled on the Kaitaki may not have  been burly Englishmen as Espiner remembers, but I was confident in an emergency they would excel as the Wahine did.

The Interisland Line must be profitable. To be so, it must be funded not bled by owners or undercapitalised .These two diseases have plagued the line. Colin Espiner’s feature is timely and correct.