Plea to keep iconic Manly ferries
Phasing out the iconic Manly ferries would remove a vital part of Sydney's commuter network and slash tourist numbers on Sydney Harbour's most popular trip, the maritime union says.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance last week flagged the government's intention to retire all but one of the the Freshwater class ferries starting next year, saying they were too expensive to maintain.
The Maritime Union of Australia on Monday said the proposal to replace the four Freshwater ferries with Emerald-class catamarans would slash passenger capacity from 1100 to 400 per trip.
It also said the Emerald-class catamarans were unable to operate in the five metre swells that the Freshwater-class can when crossing the heads.
MUA Sydney Branch Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett said the decision was a costly mistake that would see a dramatic drop in visits to Manly when the Sydney tourism market was trying to recover from the COVID crisis.
The ferries were also a vital part of Sydney's commuter network, taking people from the northern beaches off roads and transporting them to work in the city, he said.
Opposition leader Jodi Mckay said the decision to replace Manly ferries with under capacity vessels built overseas was a "kick in the guts to both our local manufacturing workforce and to commuters".
The replacement vessels were "proof of the folly of buying cheap overseas built ferries" and government money should be spent in NSW to help kick-start the economy", she said.
Mr Garrett said Manly ferries were an internationally recognised Australian institution and "the jewel in the crown for Sydney Harbour".
"Taking the Manly ferries out of service would be like pulling the Staten Island ferries out of New York, the Star ferries out of Hong Kong, or the cable cars out of San Francisco."
"Families from all over Sydney love getting the Manly ferry from Circular Quay and spending a day at Manly Beach. It's been a tradition for over 100 years.
"This announcement is simply the wrong decision for Manly, the northern beaches and Sydney."