In Transport

Victoria Minister for Planning Matthew Guy

Ferries Could Make A Splash On The Bay

Victor P Taffa

Planning Minister Matthew Guy has released the first stage of a discussion paper that may see Port Phillip Bay home to Sydney Harbour style commuter ferries.

Prepared by Ernst and Young for the Victorian Coalition Government, the report into the viability of a ferry service on Port Phillip Bay from the western suburbs, Geelong and Portarlington, examined transport efficiency to new population centres, operational facts and challenges and possible destinations.

The Melbourne Ferries Background Study, which looked at the preconditions necessary for a viable commuter and tourism service between Docklands, Williamstown, Point Cook, Werribee South, Geelong and Portarlington, found that a viable service could operate taking 50 to 65 minutes from Werribee South and around 80 minutes from Portarlington.

“If Melbourne is to grow sustainably we need to examine all aspects of commuter movement to keep our city liveable.” Mr. Guy said.

“A viable commuter ferry service has potential and importantly may be able to offer commuters with increased comfort, potential access to wi-fi internet and the ability to purchase refreshments.”

“The Discussion Paper has also reviewed demand for service and found that almost one in three workers in Point Cook travel to the City of Melbourne for employment, confirming a large potential catchment for a future service.”

“In addition the report confirms that a quarter of the Altona and Williamstown resident workforce also travel to the City of Melbourne a concentration of journey to work patterns which is well above the average for other parts of Melbourne.” Mr. Guy said.

With work well underway on the Coalition Government’s new Metropolitan Planning Strategy, Mr Guy said that the study would be a key input when examining issues of liveability in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

“While previous Labor governments ignored Melbourne’s west, the Coalition Government will not.” Mr. Guy said.

“The Coalition Government knows that rapid population growth and limited service increases for a decade under Labor has left the west with liveability issues that need to be addressed.”

Mr. Guy also noted that new ferry links could provide an opportunity for commuter transport and has potential to drive activity at other tourism and business precincts.

“A link from Docklands to Wyndham Harbour may open an exciting tourism opportunity that will provide visitors to Melbourne with the chance to take in the CBD, the Docklands, views of Port Phillip Bay and the delights of Melbourne’s west including the Werribee Open Range Zoo, Werribee Park Mansion and the RAAF Museum.” Mr. Guy said.

“Potential future links to Geelong and Portarlington could also open up an extensive tourist network through to the Bellarine Peninsula.”

“There is also the potential for a ferry service in Melbourne’s west to enhance the attractiveness of nearby coastal areas, encouraging more workers and businesses to locate within the East Werribee employment precinct.” Mr. Guy said.

Mr. Guy said that that further work will now be completed to explore the final feasibility of various route options including a review of speed limits on the Yarra River and consideration of any conflicts with the Port of Melbourne.

This final work will also identify the conditions where ferry services would be viable, including the service conditions to be an attractive alternative to the road or rail, forecasting commuter and recreational passenger demands, and necessary infrastructure investments.

A final report with a feasibility cost analysis is expected to be completed by mid- 2013.

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