Ferries capable of reaching narrow bays like Glebe foreshore need to have shallow hulls. Photo: Tim Bo

Posted by & filed under City News, Inner West Independent.

BY JOHN MOYLE

Ferries are only in the news when one crashes into a wharf or gets called Ferry McFerry Face, but for state politician Jamie Parker, they are big news all the time, as he garners support to see the introduction of ferry services into Glebe and Annandale.

“I have been pressing this issue in the local community since my election in 2011, and we have over 3,000 residents supporting the campaign to date,” Jamie Parker, Member for Balmain, says.

One look at the Glebe demographics from the 2016 Census shows that when the area is compared against destinations with similar statistics it has a reasonable argument for a ferry service.
According to the 2016 census Glebe and Forest Lodge has a population of 18,945, with 3,788 working full time and 1,802 working part time.

A further 2,500 people are shortly to be housed in the new Harold Park development, most of which will be full time and essential services workers.
Glebe also supports 1,945 businesses drawing people from within and outside the area.
The combined Glebe-Forest Lodge area has 7,500 people travelling for work each day, while 6,500 people commute into the suburbs daily.

Mr Parker’s report uses a figure of 8 per cent of Glebe’s working population to estimate the number of trips, with daily return trips totalling 1,200 trips, making a weekly total of 6,000 return trips.
This does not take into account the large numbers of students, retirees and tourists who would use the service throughout the week and weekends.

The report summary commissioned by Mr Parker calculates that inner city locations sharing similar residential density to Glebe can be used to model the number of potential ferry users for Glebe.
Figures for Kirribilli show that 9.1 per cent of the suburb’s workers use ferry travel, while Balmain is 6.9 per cent and jumps to 23 per cent for Balmain East.

Glebe is currently serviced by the Dulwich Hill light rail, with stations at Glebe and Jubilee Park, and bus routes along Glebe Point Road and Parramatta Road.

Parker’s vision for a Glebe ferry service is nothing new, as it has an infamous historical precedent.
“Matthew Burns operated a ferry service to Glebe Point and Annandale in 1880, with the ferry wharf being at the end of Ferry Road,” Ted McKeown, past president, Glebe Society, says.
“The fare into the city was a penny, but in 1903 the service went broke and was abandoned.”

Locating a ferry wharf at the bottom of Ferry Road today could be problematic due to the foreshore area being home to The BoatHouse on Blackwattle Bay restaurant and Sydney University’s Women’s Rowing Club.
“I didn’t even know about a ferry wharf for here,” Jan, receptionist, The Boathouse says, while no one from the rowing club was available for comment.

But the proposal is far more than one politician’s pet project, and is being seriously discussed by stakeholder including Transport for NSW and private ferry operators SeaLink.
“The government has adopted the proposal for a ferry stop at Glebe in their long term plan for Sydney ferries and we need to make that a reality,” Parker adds.

“Transport for NSW is committed to longer-term planning, which will consider options to expand the transport network in line with future demand and urban renewal opportunities, and ferry services to Glebe and Annandale will be considered as part of this approach,” Spokesperson, Transport for NSW, says.

SeaLink already operate a number of harbour routes for Transport for NSW and are keen to explore the possibility of adding extra capacity, but feel that they have been thwarted by a lack of responses to approaches made in the past.
“There were efforts made and meetings lined up, but they just kept on getting cancelled, and we were not getting much traction with the City of Sydney’s properties managers, who were important as to getting clarity on whether or not we could operate from that wharf,” Michael Hughes, Commercial Director, SeaLink, says.

Mr Hughes also claimed that planned meetings with Jamie Parker had never eventuated, an accusation to which Parker had no reply.
If a Glebe ferry is to receive serious consideration, the plan also needs to take in the broader Bays Precinct that includes White Bay Power Station, Sydney Fish Markets, Wentworth Park, Rozelle, Blackwattle and Johnston Bays and the White Bay overseas passenger terminal.

“We have small ferry called a ‘Tubby’ with a sixty passenger capacity with a small wash profile and draw, that we feel is perfect for these conditions,” Michael Hughes says.

In the meantime Jamie Parker is continuing his mission to gather support from he community that will use the services.
“I think a ferry service for Glebe and Annandale is a great idea and Jamie has just a put a mail out into letterboxes about getting further interest,” Jan from Gleebooks says.

  • Elizabeth Elenius

    Pyrmont Action Inc of which I am Convenor, has been advocating a Bays ferry service for many years. Such a service is actually mooted in Transport’s “Sydney’s Ferries Future” – but not for another 10 years or so. But why stop at Glebe? There is already a suitable wharf constructed on the Western side of Pyrmont Point which could serve the many thousands of new residents and workers located to the west of Harris Street, as well as the future residents and visitors who will be attracted to the Bays Market District, now on the drawing board. Of course a stop at the Sydney Fish Markets would be a must. A Bays service could also serve White Bay, in the vicinity of the cruise passenger terminal. Whilst Glebe is well-served by buses and the light rail, Pyrmont has only 2 bus services which are notoriously unreliable (due to increasing congestion on our roads), a ferry on its eastern edge (a good km walk for many on the western side), and the light rail, which still only goes to Central. Water transport is the most environmentally friendly form of transport. We have a great harbour and should be using it for such. I hope Mr Parker has more luck in getting to discuss this matter with the planners in the Dept of Transport. So far, we haven’t been able to get past the phalanx of “Community Engagement Officers” whose main job appears to be to keep members of the public from any knowledge about plans until they become a fait accompli.