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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

Yarra River ‘saviour’

26 May 2012

Yarra River ‘saviour’ Image

By Shane Scanlan

This is the vessel which could bring long-awaited “activation” to Docklands.

Not to be confused with Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s idea for a Port Phillip Bay commuter vessel (see our story on page 3), this boat is the missing link between Docklands and Federation Square.

The state-of-the-art craft overcomes all the problems which have prevented a regular shuttle service being established.

The electric/diesel-powered craft:

  • Naturally sits low enough in the water to clear with ease Melbourne’s restrictive river bridges on even the highest tides;
  • As a multi-hulled vessel, is remarkably stable;
  • Allows passengers to stand, as they would in a commuter tram or bus;
  • Allows passengers to embark and disembark at the same time;
  • Throws almost no wash onto the river banks as it passes;
  • Is environmentally sustainable and burns only modest amounts of fuel;
  • Doesn’t need to tie up at wharves to load and unload passengers; and
  • Can carry wheelchair-bound passengers and bicycles.

The design was commissioned by the City of Melbourne’s waterways office, which is leading the charge towards a viable ferry service for the city.

The vision for the service is to form a natural river leg for passengers using the City Circle Tram and Tourist Shuttle Bus services.

Aimed primarily at visitors to Melbourne, the service would be incorporated into the Myki public transport ticketing system.

It is understood that three vessels would be required: One going in each direction and one relief vessel to allow maintenance and servicing without disrupting the timetable.

Like other public transport services, the river shuttle would require a small government subsidy and it is hoped that these costs would be shared between the State Government and the City of Melbourne.

The vessel is likely to be applauded by the broader Docklands business community but may be opposed by charter boat operators who chose to see the shuttle as competition.

Docklander Bill Reid said the experience of a river shuttle for the opening weekend of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival in March showed that the service was essential for Docklands.

“Everyone knows that water activation is the missing piece of the Docklands puzzle,” Mr Reid said. “But the challenge has been to get the multi-layered tiers of decision making to all line up.”

“The innovation presented in this new purpose-built vessel will hopefully build enough momentum to transform the idea into reality.”

Mr Reid, who contracts to Destination Docklands as an account manager, organised the March river shuttle to showcase Docklands as a dining destination of choice. Despite terrible weather, some 10,000 people used the service over the weekend of March 3 and 4.

“There’s no doubt that Docklands will come into its own if the right people can get together make this ferry service happen,” he said.

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Comments

  • Guillaume at 2:51pm on 30/05/12

    This is great news. If we can get this happening we will see a greater influx of tourists to the whole of the Melbourne Waterfront, including Docklands. What a magnificenty looking craft. Reminds me of a Stealth Craft - which I suggest it is.
  • Tim Bracher at 3:39pm on 30/05/12

    Great looking vessel, but designing the vessel is the easy bit in this equation.
    The hard bit is developing the business model, so lets put a lot of time into that first, otherwise it will fall over, as have the previous three trial shuttle services because of the very high is operating them.

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