Any changes to Manly ferries will need community support says Member for Manly James Griffin.
“Manly and its iconic ferry service to Circular Quay are one and the same. That won’t change whilst I’m the Member for Manly,” said Mr Griffin.
Concerns have been raised that the iconic Freshwater-class ferries will be withdrawn from service when new, faster Emerald-class ferries come into service next year.
Mr Griffin insists the Freshwater-class ferries will continue to have a place on the Manly to Circular Quay route.
“I reiterate my comments to the ferry operator and Government that any changes will need to be embraced by my community and be a win both for commuters and the community. This includes a role for our iconic Freshwater-class ferries,” said Mr Griffin.
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is understood to be considering how the new Emerald-class vessels will be introduced and what the service mix will be for the Manly route.
TfNSW recently announced significant changes to bus services with the introduction of a hub-and-spoke strategy that will see long-standing bus routes removed from service and replaced with more frequent local routes that connect to express services on trunk routes.
This approach by TfNSW may have sparked fears that the Freshwater-class vessels, which run every half hour and take 30 minutes to complete the route from Manly to the city, could be withdrawn in favour of faster, more frequent trips possible with the Emerald-class ferries.
The Emerald-class ferries can make the Manly to Circular Quay trip in 22 minutes. Despite having a lower passenger capacity per vessel, they can be run every 10 minutes at peak times, meaning total passenger volumes are higher. They also cost roughly half as much to run compared to the older Freshwater-class vessels.
According to TfNSW, no decisions have been made on the future of the Freshwater fleet and they are investigating options to maintain some of these vessels past next year.
Mr Griffin says community interest will play a key role in any decision on the future of the Freshwater fleet.
“Increasing choice, frequency, speed and reliability for Manly’s commuters is vital. We will continue to invest in Manly’s transport infrastructure and services whether it be upgraded wharves, the B-Line, ferries, road infrastructure or Park&Ride commuter car parks.
“Transport for NSW will continue to consider what role the Freshwater-class fleet will play alongside the new Emerald-class vessels,” said Mr Griffin.
Members of the community concerned about the potential change to services have started a petition, which at the time of writing had over 2,500 supporters.