A recent article in the SMH highlights Melbourne is considering transport options for the growing West. No, not more trains, not better bus services, but ferries.
I love how they have to point out this isn’t a brand new idea, it’s nothing short of ordinary.
But you know, given some of the cities I have been two, in San Fran, New York, Vancouver.
I mean, it’s definitely workable. Docklands is likely the ideal with trams providing a convenient shuttle between Southern Cross Station and the waterfront (Route 48) – and straight into the heart of the city.
Establish some docks and there you go. Start of with something that resembles a Tiger Airways Terminal, and then you can build for something more, er, permanent.
But looking above, Williamstown, Point Cook, Werribee and perhaps Altona seem likely ‘stops’ – operating a very linear, i.e.: City to Werribee (via all the other places in-between). That’s slightly problematic as would you run City – Werribee direct services, alongside City direct to Point Cook/Willy et al? Turnarounds can be slow, depending on the boats,
Your traditional style boats (uni-directional, to steal a light rail reference) but have to manoeuvre around. Other boats (bi-directional) can manoeuvre straight in, then manoeuvre straight out using the other end which thus becomes the front.
Another thing is, if you want a sustainable public transit option, you need to change the habits of people and feed the service. To generate customer numbers, frequent, and fast bus/light rail options need to feed right to the ports. Think Smartbus kind of shuttles right to doorstep of the docks. So servicing Werribee is still an issue. If you decide to go to the port, you need to take your car or a good bus service down, to meet up with a ferry, then into the city.
That’s simple enough. But depending on how quick, and how the service is design – it could mean, stopping at Williamstown before arriving into the city. If anything, I’d be more interested in reinvestigating services to Geelong as the waterfront practically adjacent to the city. How fast are these boats anyway?
San Fran as the travel legs generally aren’t that long – around the city. But same in Vancouver, these are more ‘Water Taxi’ kind of ops. The geography allows for shorter trips and compete against traffic (although in Melbourne, that’s a good enough reason).
But by far the easiest, is building further capacity on the rail network in the West. The Regional Rail Link will certainly aid this. But peak capacity is still an issue. The government is naturally seeking it’s options, but will we get a strait answer…