Merit in ferry transit talks
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.