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Editions

Commuter ferry struggling to stay afloat

04 Aug 2016

Commuter ferry struggling to stay afloat Image

The Wyndham Harbour to Docklands ferry may be struggling to stay afloat, but a new Portarlington to Docklands service could be Port Phillip Ferries’ saving grace.

Despite cutting daily ticket prices from $20 to $7.80 in June, passenger numbers for the weekday commuter service have failed to reach expectations.

Port Phillip Ferries operations director Murray Rance said numbers for the Wyndham Harbour to Docklands service were still very low, with daily numbers averaging the high teens.

“All-in-all the commuter service has been very disappointing,” Mr Rance said.

Mr Rance said the company needed to be hitting 250 to 300 passengers each day for the service to be sustainable.

In contrast, a trial of a Portarlington to Docklands service last month was extremely successful, with 387 people on board for the inaugural journey on June 29.

The ferry departed Portarlington at 10.30am, arrived in Docklands at 12pm and passengers had an hour in Docklands before hopping back on the ferry at 1pm.

Mr Rance said the company planned to hold another trial from Portarlington in the first week of August.

Mr Rance said Port Phillip Ferries was also encouraged by passenger numbers during weekend services between Wyndham Harbour and Docklands and a school holiday service to Werribee Zoo.

According to Mr Rance, there is no deadline set currently for a decision over whether the Wyndham Harbour to Docklands commuter service would continue.

“The idea at this stage is to gather data, we’re clearly disappointed with what’s happening with Wyndham but have had great support from Portarlington.”

Port Phillip Ferries is also continuing to pursue an increased speed limit on the Yarra River, which would reduce ferry travel times.

However, Mr Rance said the company wouldn’t be investing money in the wave, wake and safety assessment required by Port of Melbourne to assess the increased speed limit request, unless customer demand was strong enough to support the continuation of the service.

He said if Portarlington continued to maintain the level of support it showed at the first trial, it would warrant the investment in the wave, wake and safety assessment.

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