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Old April 6th, 2007, 07:11 AM   #41
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Love the ferries! What an excellent way to commute; like a pleasure cruise. Wish they'd paint them all green and beige though, think they'd look much better in a uniform colour scheme.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 07:36 AM   #42
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Wasn't there plans to replace the old ferries with new ones that can do multiple routes?
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Old April 7th, 2007, 06:45 AM   #43
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All I know is that there will be a $5 million upgrade of ferries to upgrade engines and operating systems.

I do remember a few months ago of a proposal to introduce a ferry that could be used on any route, but nothing new since.

Also the Liberals were hoping to buy new Manly ferries if reelected but won't be happening with Iemma in charge.

As Peter Debnam quoted 'I hope they take our policy onboard'
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Old April 7th, 2007, 06:39 PM   #44
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The Manly route will always require a larger ferry simply because of the sheer numbers it carries.

For other routes, though, I do think a generic ferry would be a good idea.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 05:12 AM   #45
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Not getting any better

From The Sydney Morning Herald
Fiasco afloat: ferries dead in the water
April 9, 2007

The worst accident in decades, 12 bosses in 15 years, and a decaying fleet. Can Sydney Ferries be rescued? Robert Wainwright reports.

SHE is identified in official reports as SuperCat 4, but the last public ferry commissioned on Sydney Harbour has run for five years without a name on her bow.

Three older sisters - Mary MacKillop, Susie O'Neill and Louise Sauvage - were launched in the afterglow of the Olympics, and named by winners of newspaper competitions.

But the warmth was fleeting when the SuperCats were found to be superduds.

The contract to build eight more of the $4.5 million vessels was cancelled, and No. 4 was quietly lowered into the water without fanfare or christening. This week she was anonymously plying the waters between Rose Bay and Circular Quay.

The saga of SuperCat 4 is symbolic of the malaise afflicting the bureaucracy known as Sydney Ferries. Once the flag bearer of the city's public transport system, it is a tattered, dysfunctional operation held together with cheap engineering alternatives, questionable designs and dodgy work practices - the antithesis of its own charter "to deliver safe and reliable ferry services in an efficient, effective and financially responsible manner".

With three investigations into the March 28 tragedy in which four people died when the ferry Pam Burridge hit a pleasure cruiser - the worst in 80 years of ferry operations - the Herald can reveal that the board and senior management are at odds over the future of the organisation, and specifically over how to spend an estimated $250 million renewing its ageing, disparate fleet.

Although $5 million has been earmarked this year to re-engine 12 of its 31 ferries, all will need replacing over the next decade.

A proposal by the firm KPMG and backed by the latest chief executive, Geoff Smith, to replace the traditional Manly ferries with a fleet of smaller, faster ferries has been rejected unanimously by the five-member board because of fears that the SuperCat disaster - the failed experiment to design an all-purpose ferry - will be repeated.

The board, headed by the former chairman of Leighton Holdings, Geoff Ashton, voted unanimously in February to seek a second opinion, and asked why an accounting firm was making recommendations about ferry design and operation.

The decision halted a State Government plan to announce the program to renew the fleet during the election campaign.

A spokesman for Mr Smith confirmed the board discussions, but described the KPMG plan as a work in progress.

The schism between Mr Smith and the board complicates the special commission of inquiry into the operation announced by the Premier, Morris Iemma.

The "top to bottom" investigation headed by Bret Walker, SC, has five targets in its terms of reference - operations, industrial relations, workforce culture, regulatory and governance, and management structure and practices. But insiders question the value of the inquiry unless there is the political will to consider some form of privatisation, which Mr Iemma has not ruled out.

Sydney Ferries was corporatised almost three years ago in a bid to make it accountable. But problems have continued, compounded by an ageing fleet, falling patronage and an industrial structure that fosters worker dynasties at one end of the spectrum and a revolving door of executives at the other.

Sydney Ferries has been pilloried by a succession of reports over poor performance, shoddy maintenance, inadequate training and accidents. Yet management could not give the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal even the briefest data about service quality, reliability or safety of its operations because no one had thought it important enough to monitor.

The tribunal approved a fare increase last year but was highly critical of management, noting figures which showed revenue had fallen by 14 per cent while costs had increased by 46 per cent over six years.

By contrast, Sydney Ferries' annual report painted a flattering self-portrait of service levels, including 98 per cent on-time running, but failed to mention that cancellations had more than doubled, delays were up by 50 per cent, and patronage had fallen by almost 1 million passengers since 2001. The latest performance results on its website, for February, show customer complaints at almost four times target levels.

A report by the Office of Transport Safety Investigations late last year described maintenance as sub-optimal, with incomplete documentation and poor monitoring of work and performance. Crew resource management was below best practice, affected by inadequate training, poor communication procedures, ill-defined roles and rostering problems.

And now people have died - five in two accidents this year. Even a plan to include black boxes on ferries was abandoned when costs pushed safety standards to one side.

The myriad entwined problems start at the top. There have been 12 chief executives in 15 years - three in the past 18 months alone - as well as six engineering managers in as many years and a new general manager every six months since 2005.

One trade union official joked: "What do I think of senior managers? I never get too close to them because they don't last long enough. We operate day-to-day; that's the best we can offer in the circumstances. The public has a right to expect better."

Rear-Admiral Geoff Smith is a former commander of the navy's mission to intercept asylum seekers. His critics say he has been set up for failure, if only because he is a military officer with little if any commercial maritime experience. His relationship with the workforce is not helped by the recent appointment to senior management positions of four ex-navy personnel.

Mr Smith would not be interviewed, but has previously dismissed the March 28 accident as a blip in an otherwise improving safety performance. "Unfortunately, we have these couple of incidents these last couple of months," he told the Herald. "That, unfortunately, has blighted what had been a pretty good record up to that in the preceding 12 months."

The comments were greeted with horror inside Sydney Ferries, whose 600 staff are said to be shattered, and were told by senior managers that it would take an accident-free period of five years to overcome concerns of the travelling public.

Two of the key areas of the Walker inquiry will be industrial relations and workplace culture.

Paul Garrett is assistant secretary with the Maritime Union, which represents most of the workforce. His father, John, was head the Firemen and Deckhands Union of NSW before it was amalgamated in 1993 with the Waterside Workers Federation and Seamens Union.

Mr Garrett's family history is indicative of the so-called dynasty culture at Sydney Ferries - hailed by unions as a strength of workforce commitment, but derided as draconian and obstructionist by its opponents.

Mr Garrett insists the workforce is the one constant of the organisation, but concedes there are serious, systemic problems. The fleet not only needs replacing but also simplifying to aid maintenance. He would prefer three or four ferry classes rather than seven. The industrial climate is poor, he says, compounded by an organisation which has not come to terms with corporatisation. There are no centralised records for employees and three sets of working conditions for staff.

Training is another issue, he says. Although things have improved since a run of accidents in 2005, training is hampered by decisions as simple as the purchase of a training simulator, which would remove the need to take ferries out of service to train crews.

Sydney Ferries once owned a simulator and even set up a training facility at TAFE but sold it when no one used the equipment for five years.

The secretary of the Australian Marine and Power Engineers, Andrew Williamson, says the Walker inquiry should include the operations of the NSW Maritime Authority, which regulates the harbour. He said it has a bias towards recreational users of the harbour as opposed to professional master mariners and their crews.

Peter Burge, a maritime consultant who used to work with Sydney Ferries, says a form of privatisation is the only way forward. He proposes the Government retains ownership of the fleet and routes, but contracts management to a private company.

He said the fleet need rationalising, training needs addressing, and there was no urgency over maintenance.

Sydney Ferries "will never make a profit but that's not the aim of public transport," he said. "However, a commercial operator could run it with minimal losses to the taxpayer. It's a matter of politicians facing an unpalatable reality."
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Old July 13th, 2007, 09:55 AM   #46
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Not good news. Patronage is down :9

From The Sydney Morning Herald
Passengers desert ferries
Date: July 11 2007


Linton Besser, Transport Reporter

SYDNEY'S ferries are ailing and the Manly service is high on the sick list: the number of people using it has plummeted by more than 110,000 passenger trips in three years as commuters abandon the city's harbour icons.

The man appointed to investigate an overhaul of the Sydney Ferries Corporation, Bret Walker, SC, has revealed the dire state of the Circular Quay to Manly service, including its spiralling cost. While the corporation spent more than $40.5 million on this route alone in the past financial year, up substantially from $34.6 million in 2004-05, patronage on the Manly service has fallen substantially.

An internal draft of the corporation's Fleet Replacement Strategy shows the ferries travelling across the harbour are usually only half-full. There has been a decline in the use of both the Freshwater Class ferry and the JetCat, but it is the fast commuter service that has suffered a more marked downturn of 5.6 per cent.

Overall ferry patronage has declined by almost 1 million passengers since 2001.

The Manly ferry ran at a cost of $4.90 per passenger during 2006-07, but JetCat costs soared to $15 per passenger, making it "one of the highest cost passenger journeys provided by Sydney Ferries", Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker was appointed by the State Government to head a special commission of inquiry into Sydney's ferries after the deaths of five people in two separate ferry accidents in January and March. Separate inquiries were launched into both incidents.

Behind the scenes the service has been plagued by problems. Its ageing fleet is in need of replacement and has not been perfectly maintained, and there have been rostering problems, inadequate training and below best-practice management, a transport safety report found last year. Costs have ballooned 46 per cent in the past six years, but revenue fell 14 per cent.

In April, the availability of ferries and JetCats to service Manly - 74 per cent and 63 per cent respectively - fell to below the minimum required before services are affected. Since February, these figures have been well below the corporation's target range. In May, customer complaints were four times higher than the organisation's own target.

Mr Walker will attend a public forum in Harbord later this month to hear northern beaches locals talk about the importance of the service to them.

The Mayor of Manly, Peter Macdonald, said he suspected the inquiry was part of a campaign by the Government to privatise the loss-making ferry service. "It worries me. If it gets into private hands, it may well be there are steep increases in ticket prices, [and] when you privatise a service, an operator will discard less profitable schedules."

The state MP for Manly, Mike Baird, a Liberal, said he would support partial privatisation if service conditions were improved. "There's no doubt that Sydney Ferries needs to be reformed."

A Sydney Ferries spokesman, Kai Ianssen, said the organisation could not comment broadly on the Manly service while the inquiry was under way. He said the operating costs for the JetCats in 2006-07 were affected by periodic planned maintenance.
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Old July 15th, 2007, 02:02 PM   #47
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I've only just discovered this thread! What a brilliant one it is too! Great photos of the fleet.
My Nana used to live on Collaroy Beach and when we visited we always did the trip to Manly to catch a ferry to Circular Quay! I remember doing it on the hydrofoils too! They were amazing - I think it was a sad day when they were decommissioned.
Wasn't there talk around that time to rescue the hydrofoils and introduce a service from Wollongong to Circular Quay?
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Old July 16th, 2007, 03:16 AM   #48
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My favourite commute ever was on a Sydney ferry. I used to get the Rivercat from Cabarita for years and I never ever got tired of it. There was nothing nicer than walking down to the wharf on a crisp morning, sit at the front of the Rivercat and just enjoy the view / breeze.

Noice!

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Old July 17th, 2007, 03:21 PM   #49
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Jarf's comments are typical Melbourne! I don't think anyone outside Sydney would understand the special quality of commuting by ferry. People would use the ferry from Manly even if there was a train from the wharf - it is one of the world's geat journeys.

Notwithstanding, unfortunately Sydney's ferries are no longer a strict necessity for commuter service. Their functions are duplicated by land modes, but take them away and see how Sydneysiders react! There are now multiple compounded inefficiencies in the government operation of Sydney's ferries and return to private operation (which is how they operated successfully for nearly 150 years) is pretty inevitable. It will be better for them, believe me.

One example of incompetence was the attempt to standardise the design, mentioned on this thread. This was made by bureaucrats at desks with no maritime knowledge. The ferry services include calm water routes that require shallow draft minimal wake vessels, and deep sea condition routes (Manly) that require seagoing vessels with deep drafts and ability to handle big beam seas. The catamaran type they introduced as a standard had some bad mishaps on the Manly route in big seas. There are some big seagoing cats that can run on the Manly route though. The result is now a non-standardised fleet with many different vessel types and a maintenance headache.

But don't worry about this if you're just a passenger! My recommended Sydney experience for the visitor - the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly and then walk down the Corso to the ocean beach at Manly. Nothing like it in the world!

BTW there has been a plan to build a railway from North Sydney to Mona Vale for some 70 years - there is even the start of the tunnel at North Sydney. It's simply been a victim of Australia's appalling transport planning and political indecision.
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Old July 18th, 2007, 05:33 AM   #50
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If you ask me, the key to solving the northern beaches public transport woes and the Sydney ferry patronage problems (namely the Manly - Circular Quay route) both lie in setting up a localised light rail network (capable of decent speeds) that covers right up to Mona Vale, and feeds directly down to the ferry terminal at Manly to connecting services.

People should be able to buy one ticket and travel from Mona Vale to Circular Quay and beyond, if necessary... No massive tunnels under the Spit, no "feral westies" mingling with the "wax heads and fin-dicks" of the Northern Beaches. Everyone's happy.
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Old July 18th, 2007, 11:27 PM   #51
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Commuters on the Northern beaches have access to travelpasses which would cover their bus and ferry travel. If light rail was introduced, it would have to be included in the ticket as well.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 05:16 AM   #52
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Yeah that's what I mean... make it all one ticket...
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Old July 19th, 2007, 04:39 PM   #53
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Integrated Ticketing, its not an entirely new concept. Sydney already has the footworks for it set out with TravelPass, however not everyone is onboard. You need the current Light Rail onboard as well as any future light rail. Plus the major private bus operators like hillbus, westbus and veolia. The government has to do this though and NSW seems incapable of fixing just one mode of transport let alone organizing all of them.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 06:15 AM   #54
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I heard that surprise surprise Macquarie Bank are investigating buying out Sydney Ferries? Would this be a good thing, or a bad thing, I can't decide?
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Old July 20th, 2007, 02:13 PM   #55
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Somebody has to provide the capital, its more a question of who manages it. I would like to see an experienced operater of both commuter and tourist services like Fantasea (Whitsundays) running it. There will inevitably be a sorting out of both the fleet and the routes/services.
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Old July 21st, 2007, 01:31 AM   #56
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I have read there are a number of companies looking into purchasing a stake in Sydney Ferries. The article also read that the government would not sell all of it, only part.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 11:39 PM   #57
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What does everyone think of the idea to privitaise the network. I can see the pros of doing it but history shows that privately run ferries haven't worked in Sydney.

An article from last weeks Sydney Morning Herald.

Private ferries, metro rail on the way
Catharine Munro and Linton Besser
November 2, 2007

SYDNEY'S transport seems likely to move increasingly into private hands after a scathing report on ferries recommended their privatisation and the State Government revealed it wanted to build an underground metro rail service run separately from the main network.

The report by Bret Walker, SC, urges the Government to let the private sector clean up the mess after revealing the depths to which the Sydney Ferries management had descended.

The once-grand harbour service had been brought to its knees and a public-private partnership would relieve the Government of the ferry service's complex management, Mr Walker recommended.

The advice fits the cabinet's desire to dilute the power of the transport unions and its resistance to spending on services. The Transport Minister, John Watkins, yesterday ruled out more public money for infrastructure, suggesting the next generation of transport projects would be privately funded.

High spending on electricity and water, as well as schools, health and transport meant the budget had been exhausted.

"We really are at the upper limit of our expenditure capacity on infrastructure in NSW currently," Mr Watkins said. "To go any higher in our budget puts us in a difficult position with regard to our AAA credit rating and the long-term capacity of our budget."

A public-private partnership would be the only way to deliver the rail services needed to meet population growth of 1.4 million in the next 25 years. "We have to do it now because those people are coming," he said.

Mr Watkins said the Government was starting to plan the next generation of public transport, and it would not involve the state-owned and run double-decker rail system. Instead he wanted a system akin to those of Hong Kong and Singapore, where the services are so frequent there is no need for timetables. "We are now reaching that point in Sydney where we have to go to the next step in rail, and the next step in rail is metro. It has to be … It's fast, it's efficient, it moves lots of people and rail is the way to move people. So that's what's coming next."

The proposed metro line would run between Malabar and West Ryde, under the congested Anzac Parade and Victoria Road.

The Co-ordinator General of Infrastructure, David Richmond, revealed the thinking on the future of the transport network. "Maybe it's time to break away from the existing system and to contemplate the introduction of a system that would operate independently from the existing system, independent in every sense of the word," he said. He later told the Herald: "There's no question I'm supportive of it."

Applauding from the sidelines was the former minister Carl Scully, who held both the roads and transport portfolios until he resigned last year. He said he found the unions "very, very difficult" to deal with.

"The management and culture approach of the unions really just is in a time warp … The only way to have a root and branch alteration is to set up the metro system," Mr Scully said.

But Mr Watkins - speaking with Mr Scully and Mr Richmond at the Sydney Morning Herald/Lloyd's List Transport and Infrastructure Forum - said the metro line would not precede the long-promised state-funded extension of lines to the north-west and south-west fringes, which would require the construction of a new harbour crossing. But he did not say when funding would be made available for it.

Mr Watkins faced further political heat over revelations by Mr Walker that he sacked Sue Sinclair, the head of Sydney Ferries until February 2006, without the board's approval, although he had no power to do so.

Ms Sinclair told the inquiry there was no interaction between the board and the minister, and that Mr Watkins acted "in clear contravention" of the Transport Administration Act. "What happened was exactly what the act was designed to prevent," she said.

Mr Watkins also intervened in an open tender process for vessel maintenance which could have saved the taxpayer as much as $1.2 million, illustrating "the difficulties faced by the board and chief executive in attempting to manage Sydney Ferries Corporation as a stand-alone commercial business."

Mr Walker recommended that the Government continue to determine routes across the harbour, and fares would still be set by the pricing regulator. Using the successful private bus contracts as his analogy, he maintained the ferry service needed an "arms-length" relationship with government as the regulator.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 01:48 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabian View Post
What does everyone think of the idea to privitaise the network. I can see the pros of doing it but history shows that privately run ferries haven't worked in Sydney.
You can't be serious Fabian, how old are you?! It has been the other way around. Private operation of ferries (for some 150 years) was highly successful; government operation since then disastrous. The end of the private era only came about because of factors beyond the operators' control - increasing use of motor cars and setting up of competing govt bus services that drew patronage away. The ferries are a bit different from other Sydney PT - only about 50% of patronage is commuter. Return to privatisation is the only way to go.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 04:01 AM   #59
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I see no problem with a private company taking over from the government with the ferries. They obviously need sorting out. They would need to ensure that they were still subsidised, or that fares weren't left to spiral out of control like the Airport line has. Same goes for any Metro development. It is vital that people pay no more, or not much more than an equivilent bus fare imo...
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:59 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by historyworks View Post
You can't be serious Fabian, how old are you?! It has been the other way around. Private operation of ferries (for some 150 years) was highly successful; government operation since then disastrous. The end of the private era only came about because of factors beyond the operators' control - increasing use of motor cars and setting up of competing govt bus services that drew patronage away. The ferries are a bit different from other Sydney PT - only about 50% of patronage is commuter. Return to privatisation is the only way to go.
But also there was poor management of ferry services, particularly the Manly run during the 1960's and 70's. Brambles who ran the services between 1972 and 1974 nearly destroyed the service completely. There were breakdowns of the ageing ferries and some were taken out of service i.e Bellaburra and the South Steyne caught fire. Fares skyrocketed, wanted periodicals cut, and a reduction in services, not to mention overcrowding.

I have a book that documents the history of Sydney ferries which would hold further information that I could use to explain why it could not work in a historical sense. I need to find it as it is currently in storage. The information I used for the Manly service came out of a separate book about the Manly run. As you pointed out competition from other forms of transport but also the opening of the harbour bridge, made operating the ferries in Sydney less viable.

In a privatised system, the Manly run will be the most vulnerable and those up on the northside won't like any reduction in their services. It's a big part of living in Manly and the Manly Daily are keen supporters for the retention of services.
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