Fix N.S.W. Transport!

River Kittens

The New South Wales government announced on 26 September 2017 that it is proposing to buy 4 small ferries for the Parramatta River.

The existing RiverCats have a capacity of 230 passengers, and the new vessels just 150. The new vessels will require a crew of 2, and the RiverCats need a crew of 3.

The Parramatta River is now the second busiest ferry service in Sydney after Manly and has experienced an 18% increase in patronage in the last twelve months. The suburbs along the river are being redeveloped for high-rise units, so further increases in patronage can be expected.

The existing ferries are overcrowded, so therefore introducing smaller craft will do little in terms of additional capacity. Smaller vessels are operationally problematic because they add to the congestion in Sydney Cove, and there was a recent Office of Transport Safety Investigations report about safety concerns regarding ferry movements in Sydney Cove.

The NSW government needs to rethink this decision and buy vessels that match or better the capacity of the RiverCats.

Mismanaged ferries order

Late in 2014, then transport minister Berejiklian called tenders for six new 400-passenger vessels for service on all inner harbour routes (Watsons Bay to Cockatoo Island). Learn more... These were to be the first major upgrade to Sydney's ferry fleet since Rivercats were introduced in 2001.

The ferries were intended to enter service in 2016 and indeed the first ferry (Catherine Hamlin) arrived in Sydney in November that year. Learn more...

However, Sydney Ferries tested the boat and identified over 100 faults in manufacture and design. The faults included a lack of maneuvrability indicating that larger rudders are necessary. These faults will take time to rectify. At time of writing, the first boat had not been accepted by Sydney Ferries so no estimate can be given of when all six might be in service. Learn more... Worse, the difficulties of this order might cause NSW Treasury to clamp down on any further ferry proposals, meaning less ferry investment.

We understand that this unfortunate situation might have been avoided had Transport for NSW consulted properly with suitable experts. T4NSW instead chose to cut corners.

The second boat (Fred Hollows) was launched in Hobart for testing late in April 2017. It has been fitted with appropriate cleats and larger rudders, so some attention must have been paid to the lessons from the first boat. We understand it carried replacement rudders for the Hamlin to Sydney; they have presumably been fitted. Hollows entered service on 26 June 2016 and is proving reliable.

The third boat (Victor Chang) reached Sydney in June 2017 but is not yet in full service.

The fourth boat (Pemulwuy) reached Sydney in August 2017.

The fifth boat (Bungaree) reached Sydney in September 2017.

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Fix N.S.W. Transport!