Commuter Ferries

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by markymark2000, 9 Oct 2019.

  1. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    Why aren't commuter ferries more common in the UK?

    With congestion getting worse on our roads and our railways in some places at breaking point, why haven't we turned to passenger ferries?

    Of course London has the Thames Clipper which seems to do reasonably well but other than that, most ferries in the UK are for cars and passengers (With landings quite far out making it an unattractive option for foot passengers) or are only used for very short hop journeys (like the Bristol launches)

    In many other countries, commuter ferries seem to have taken off, even Car-Centric America has turned to ferries.

    We have lots of canals, rivers and even seas which could be used for ferries if investment was put in for the landing stages and of course the ferries.
     
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  3. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    What sort of routes are you suggesting? I'd like to see more use of our waterways to take traffic off the roads but there needs to be demand for it. Canals are fairly unsuitable for commuting unless you're happy getting to or from work at 4mph.
     
  4. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    There has been a 'commuter ferry' at Woolwich across the Thames for many, many years. Very well used particularly when the Royal group of docks was in active service. Probably less attractive to pedestrians these days with the alternative crossings of the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail - except it's free!
    Boats introduced in the past year:
    The Woolwich ferry crossing
    [​IMG]

    © Copyright Tim Heaton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

    The boats introduced circa 1963:
    Woolwich Ferry
    [​IMG]

    © Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

    The 1920s style of steam-powered paddle boats which replaced the original 1889 boats:
    The Woolwich paddle steamer ferry in 1963
    [​IMG]

    © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

    (Click on photos to go to the larger originals on the Geograph website)
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2019
  5. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    For London use, it would be slower than 4 miles an hour due to the need to work a number of locks - possibly quicker to use the towpath to walk and certainly faster to use it to cycle a relatively traffic-free route.
     
  6. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    It is also in discussion in Germany for the Düsseldorf-Duisburg area. I predict it will fail to materialise. Speed is the main arguement against it.
    Once the novelty wears off, people will return to trams, buses, metro ect. I doubt it will take signifcant numbers of cars off the roads. Esp. in London which has an excellent public transport system and a congestion charge.
     
  7. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    When of course, they can run a 2-boat service ;)

    Does the Gravesend - Tilbury ferry still exist?
     
  8. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    10/15 years ago there were serious proposals for a Fife (Kirkcaldy) - Edinburgh (Leith/Newhaven) ferry/hovercraft service. Apparently successful trials were undertaken but the service never started. Fresh propsals were put forward a few years later - again not resulting in a regular service. There is significant commuting from Fife to Edinburgh by rail and road both of which involve, for many, a lengthy detour via the bridges.
     
  9. Roverebbw

    Roverebbw Member

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    Leeds have a ferry service which runs near the south exist of Leeds station to Leeds dock 7am to 7pm weekday and 10am to 6pm .it use to be free but now £1 a single .
    There Is the Tyne ferry also Mersey ferry
     
  10. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I find boats are very slow and inefficient. Dwell times at piers seem to run in the region of several minutes, and the services that do run never seem that frequent.

    I will however say the boat in Vancouver (SeaBus) seems the most efficient I’ve used, with customers boarding one side and alighting the other through several automatic doors. Not very frequent still however.
     
  11. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    The Isle of Wight ferries have a commuter flow (presumably mostly for work on the mainland), but I've no idea of numbers. To be most effective, I think you really need a harbour (like Sydney) or offshore Islands which make land transport unattractive.
     
  12. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    Argostoli - Lixori (Kefalonia) has to be in with a shout. Its a long way round by road

    I would have used the Bristol ferry from TM station to Bristol Bridge in the morning but the train arrived a few minutes too late. Or a lot later (It was 2001, just after Hatfield)
     
  13. W-on-Sea

    W-on-Sea Established Member

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    Hong Kong to Macau probably the most impressive (relatively) local ferry I've been on, although the ticketing arrangements (lots of resales on the black market, as tickets are generally specific to a particular journey, and peak-time or otherwise busy ones are more expensive) leave much to be desired. Not sure there are many places in the UK where such arrangements would be both viable and quicker than existing land forms of transport.
     
  14. westcoaster

    westcoaster Established Member

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    There is the Hythe ferry crossing to Southampton.
     
  15. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    I think there are also the ferries connecting Asia with Europe as commuter feeds to Istanbul
     
  16. ajs

    ajs Member

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    I agree that the Isle of Wight ferries and Hovercraft do have a commuter flow.There was a TV programme a few years back that featured commutes and the IOW to Waterloo commute was one that was covered.

    There is also the Gosport Ferry between Gosport and Portsmouth Harbour. During peak hours it is a 15 minute service and they are quick to load and unload the passengers. The ferry is for pedestrians, cyclists and motor cyclists.

    I also remember a chap that lived in the New Forest and worked in Portsmouth. His daily commute was to cycle to Lymington, ferry to Yarmouth, cycle to Ryde, ferry to Portsmouth and then cycle to work. He used the same means of transport to return home. Believe that he did this for some years.
     
  17. cav1975

    cav1975 Member

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  18. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    There’s loads in Sydney.

    But then Sydney has, in abundance, what most of the UKs high density commercial / population centres don’t have. Open water.
     
  19. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    It'll be interesting to see how long it lasts now Hong Kong and Macau are connected by motorway.

    There aren't many places in the UK where a ferry would be quicker than road or rail transport. Those places already have ferries, e.g. Torpoint, North Shields. The Thames Clippers are a nice way to commute, but they're slower than the tube or train.

    Where you do get commuter ferries elsewhere in the world, it's because water is the quickest way to travel. Sydney is a great example; because Sydney Harbour is so big and has so many little coves, the ferry is often much quicker because it's a lot shorter distance than by road. The Manly ferry, for instance, is hugely quicker than any other transport.
     
  20. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Not all such places have ferries - see the Fife-Edinburgh example above.
     
  21. Jamesrob637

    Jamesrob637 Member

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    A few people live in Torpoint and work in Devonport so it's their daily commute.
     
  22. Comstock

    Comstock Member

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    How many people commute on the Mersey Ferry?
     
  23. Roast Veg

    Roast Veg Member

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    I took a ride on the free commuter ferry in Amsterdam, which also features bidirectional loading and travel. With 2 boats it ran at peak capacity over the span of a few hundred meters, and was very well patronised.
     
  24. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Falmouth has a "Park and Float".
     
  25. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    Fife to Edinburgh wouldn't be quicker by ferry, though, not by the time you've got off the ferry down by Ocean Terminal and trundled up Leith Walk on a bus- it's 25-30 minutes from Leith to Waverley Steps alone.
     
  26. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    Ok, canals were a bad example. Rivers though we have a lot of.
    Gravesend to London was trialled by Thames Clipper. I believe a bit more work there and a few more piers in London would improve commuting into Canary Wharf by ferry and possibly central London.
    Southampton to Portsmouth. Cardiff to Weston Super Mare/Bristol. Manchester Clipper using the River Irwell from Media City to Victoria (potential to extend to Eccles if the locks don't take too long to go through). Newcastle could do with something on the River Tyne. Perhaps Glasgow on the Clyde (from Erskine to Glasgow). Just for a few examples. Lots of potentially decent services. Even more if we went down the route of 'bays' to keep the water level high enough.

    I think this would be a fantastic proposal to go forward. Transport Scotland says though any potential ferry has to be a commercial venture from start to finish and they will not support it.

    Tyne Ferry is more based on linking one side of the river to the other and not necessarily commuter or tourist flows. Mersey Ferries has the commuter service but it isn't well used for some reason (Strange given the amount of full buses which go through the tunnels)

    Thames Clipper can spend around 30 seconds on each pier. It all depends on the speed of the boarding/alighting and how efficient the crew are at their jobs.
    Some boats are slow but purely as an example, the Red Jet Catamarans can go 44mph in service (According to Wiki). The Thames Clippers can go in the region of 25-30mph. It's not fast but it's also not slow either.

    You would be attracting passengers who work the other side of the city or you can go down the route of connecting bus services to get people further into the city.
     
  27. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    If you work in Leith then it'd be a great deal quicker, as you wouldn't have the bus. If you work in the city centre, it won't; Kirkcaldy-Waverley is only 40 minutes.

    I live near North Shields. Trust me, the ferry is used as commuter transport for people working at Cobalt business park.

    Commuter ferries into Newcastle would be too slow: the speed limit is 6 knots.
     
    Last edited: 10 Oct 2019
  28. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Ferries only generally make sense where the overland alternative is non-existent (islands) or very much longer (estuaries etc). Usually when this happens there is also a demand for transport of vehicles. So passenger-only ferries are quite rare and when they exist there is often a crossing for vehicles not too far away. An example is Dartmouth-Kingswear, the former being one of very few railway stations that were never intended to be served by trains.

    There are even fewer examples of services along a waterway, probably because a road or rail service along the banks is usually much quicker both in speed of travel and in dwell times at stops. Often also the waterway loops off to take an indirect route, as with the Bristol ferry and the Thames below Canary Wharf. Where they do exist it's probably because of heavy congestion of the transport system on the banks, or because of tourist appeal, or some combination of the two.
     
  29. Cloud Strife

    Cloud Strife Member

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    I seem to remember the biggest problem (apart from the funding issue...) was the terminal in Edinburgh. The logical point for the ferry (Leith) had heavy opposition, and the other idea (Newhaven) was a poor one.
     
  30. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    There's a multitude of ferries internally within Hong Kong too; mainly connecting Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and to Lantau.
     
  31. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Now they are fast and good value (about 25p first class and 20p second class). The view from the boat is stunning, although if they keep building into the harbour at the current rate, it'll soon be possible to walk across!
     

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