In a bizarre situation that could only occur in the circus that NSW state transport has become, Manly residents now have two Fast Ferry services from which to choose. Now BotF doesn’t really care, because only in an emergency would we bother with the Fast Ferry, but the shenanigans are amusing. After battling cancellations and the crap service of the State run Jet Cats, commuters were delighted by the introduction of the Manly Fast Ferry service. Bass and Flinders introduced their ferries in early 2009 to bail out the government and surprised everyone with a genuinely good service.
Amazingly, even though everyone was happy, the government put the service up for tender and the little known Seaflight Ferry Services were awarded the contract. One would have thought that that would be the end of it once what is now known as the Sydney Fast Ferries service was launched, but the boys from Bass and Flinders have had other ideas.
1 April saw the first day of two fast ferry services going head to head. Manly Fast Ferries have had to move both their wharves. Their Manly Wharf is the jetty out the front of the Manly Wharf Hotel. The Circular Quay wharf is the Eastern Pontoon. Sydney Fast Ferries (who reportedly dropped a bundle to get them) have the traditional fast ferry wharves. The Manly Fast Ferry boys had blokes standing out the front of wharf 2 at CQ like a couple of touts at the Cross directing traffic to Eastern Pontoon. They’ve also been providing plenty of propaganda to their customers about the changes to ensure continued patronage.
BotF spoke to a number of blokes that get the traditional ferry Monday to Thursday, but get the Fast Ferry on Friday to avoid the undercover cops busting drinkers. They are adamant that they will continue to support Manly Fast Ferries. Gauging by the size of the crowds on the back of the respective services, they are not alone. There was a couple of tourists on the back of the Sydney Fast Ferry, but they looked pretty lonely.
This will be fun to observe from a distance. BotF will have to get the Sydney Fast Ferry once, because it is another schooner to empty for the BotF Bar Review Map – but otherwise it’ll be back on the traditional ferry.