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Merit in ferry tran­sit talks

Mercury (Hobart) - - YOURTASMANIA -

F all the pos­si­ble so­lu­tions thrown in the air last year as Ho­bart’s traf­fic reg­u­larly ground to a stand­still, fer­ries on the River Der­went ap­peared to be the most broadly backed op­tion.

As pro­po­nents of a light rail sys­tem for Ho­bart’s north­ern sub­urbs con­tinue to push its mer­its with­out the firm back­ing of the State Gov­ern­ment, the ap­petite for fer­ries from state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, the pub­lic and pri­vate op­er­a­tors re­mains strong.

When the Ho­bart City Coun­cil held roundtable dis­cus­sions on fer­ries in July, it heard back from al­most 50 stake­hold­ers want­ing to be in­volved and had to adapt the for­mat to ac­com­mo­date the larger group. This in it­self is not some­thing to be taken lightly as projects mooted for the cap­i­tal city usu­ally at­tract a fair de­gree of crit­i­cism.

The Ho­bart City Coun­cil has taken the driver’s seat on the push for fer­ries and now wants to move ahead with two of the most vi­tal pieces in the puz­zle — both a busi­ness case and a study to look at other po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment around ferry stops.

This is a sim­i­lar ap­proach to that taken by the same coun­cil as well as the Glenorchy City Coun­cil on the is­sue of light rail ear­lier this year when a GHD re­port found thou­sands of con­struc­tion and other on­go­ing jobs would be cre­ated by a rail cor­ri­dor ur­ban de­vel­op­ment project.

On the face of it, the lat­est move may seem to be noth­ing more than two more reports to join the long list of pre­vi­ous trans­port reports, but this move will take the idea fur­ther for­ward than it ever has.

Cre­at­ing a vi­able service will largely de­pend on the ap­proach to com­muter and tourist ser­vices — should

. . . the ap­petite for fer­ries from state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, the pub­lic and pri­vate op­er­a­tors re­mains strong.

they have some sep­a­ra­tion or be fully in­te­grated?

The SGS re­port stated that the gen­eral con­sen­sus of the July fo­rum was to treat them sep­a­rately.

While it’s been clearly demon­strated by Mona, Pep­per­mint Bay and other ser­vices that tourists are in­ter­ested in trav­el­ling our beau­ti­ful river via ferry, drag­ging lo­cal com­muters out of their cars and onto the wa­ter will most cer­tainly take some time and ad­just­ment.

Ear­lier this year, we re­vealed In­cat boss Bob Clifford’s plan for a network of com­muter fer­ries which would even­tu­ally run be­tween Bridge­wa­ter and Black­mans Bay.

He said at the time that en­sur­ing the network took ad­van­tage of Ho­bart’s tourism boom, par­tic­u­larly the ever-grow­ing num­ber of cruise ship pas­sen­gers, would help make it vi­able.

Fer­ries on the Der­went are one of the many balls in the air Ho­bart cur­rently has as the city tries to fig­ure out what it wants to be in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Rene Hid­ding says the Gov­ern­ment will wait for coun­cil’s fi­nal re­port to be for­mally made avail­able be­fore con­sid­er­ing any pro­posal for the dif­fer­ent lev­els of gov­ern­ment to work to­gether on plan­ning and fund­ing more de­tailed anal­y­sis.

The good will is there to get this project up. The fea­si­bil­ity of a light rail sys­tem also needs to be fully ex­plored. Let’s hope some swift agree­ment and ac­tion from all sides can get the ball rolling for these im­por­tant pieces of Ho­bart’s fu­ture trans­port land­scape.

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