UPDATE: 25/09/23 The NSW Government has announced that retaining the three Freshwater-class ferries will come at a cost of around $70m. It's a huge win for the community, but the high price tag is just not sustainable in the long run. (This is because the ferries have to go into dry dock every five years to be serviced).
That is why we have been pushing for new fully electric "look-alike" Manly Ferries which are built to look like the old Freshwaters. The Emerald II ferries, commissioned by Transdev, have proved completely unsuitable for the F1 route.
We have a five-year window before the ferries will need to be serviced again so I'm delighted that the Government has listened to the community and will be seeing if their replacement can provide a zero emissions, built-in Australia Manly Ferry which will provide a truly unique ferry experience.
23/06/2023: The recent announcement by the NSW State Government that three of the four large Freshwater Manly Ferries will be kept in operation has been hailed as a major win by the local community group, Save The Manly Ferry Alliance.
Over the past three years, the Save The Manly Ferry Alliance worked tirelessly to keep the campaign front and centre by organising Rallies, Protests, ongoing publicity, very active social media posts and the presentation to Parliament of a 22,000 signature Parliamentary petition.
"There is no doubt that the 'replacement' Emerald 11 ferries, which were built in China, have not been suitable for the route. Besides major ongoing steering and engine issues, the smaller ferry simply can not handle the swell crossing The Heads.
"Our iconic Freshwater ferries are treasured not just by Manly & Sydney locals, but by international tourists", enthused Northern Beaches Councillor Candy Bingham, Chair of the Save the Manly Ferry Alliance.
"This has been a 3-year fight which frankly has taken a change of government for some common sense to prevail", she said.
The grassroots campaign was supported from day one by Labor State Members of Parliament, starting when Chris Minns was the Opposition Spokesman for Transport. According to Cr Bingham, he encouraged the Alliance to lodge the Parliamentary Petition asking that the Freshwaters be kept until a suitable five-year plan for their replacement could be found.
The Labor Candidate for Wakehurst in the recent State Election, Sue Wright, has been a very active member of the Alliance from day one.
"It's become very clear that the Emerald 11 ferries are not suitable for this route and are continually out of service. In addition the design, which features a very narrow gangplank, means that the ferries are unable to meet their capacity of 400 passengers per trip but rather are leaving the wharf with only 250 passengers on board to enable the 20-minute schedule to be maintained.
"Very long queues over summer and during Vivid recently have confirmed the need for the larger ferries to be in service", Ms Wright said.
"The Alliance will continue to work with the NSW Government with the view of promoting a fully-electric look-alive Freshwater Ferry, built in Australia, as the most suitable replacement option for these majestic ferries", Cr Bingham added.
In the meantime, there is no doubt that the 20-minute service introduced with the employment of the Emerald-Class ferries has proven popular with commuters, although it operates in direct competition with the NRMA-operated Manly Fast Ferry Service. Following a new contract awarded to the NRMA, the Manly Fast Ferry will now operate a service every 10 minutes from Manly to Circular Quay and return, during peak hours Monday to Friday from July 1.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.