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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Bays Precinct Ferries Revisted

Action to transform the Bays Precinct - the 80 hectares of land surrounding waterways on the western edge of Sydney's central business district - is ramping up. An international summit about the project in November 2014 has been followed by a community open day and a "Sydneysiders Summit" on 16 and 17 May.

Work on developing the Bays Market District (currently Sydney Fish Markets), the White Bay Power Station and area around the White Bay Cruise terminal will start over the period from 2015-2019. All indications are that the beautiful old Power Station site and Market District will be major destinations and areas of residential development. Residential development is also likely around the Cruise Terminal, which may eventually be relocated. 

There is wide recognition that new public transport infrastructure is critical to the success of the whole project. But what mode and where?

From a ferry network perspective, the elephant in the room has always been the Superyacht Marina in Rozelle Bay. As long as it remains, this corner of the bays is condemned to 4 knot speed limits, hardly an appropriate speed for world class public transport. Not sure that superyachts add much to Sydney's rich fabric, but obviously they must or the marina would be moved elsewhere.

Realistically, the superyachts will probably stay and developments around Rozelle Bay will need to be serviced by other modes of transport. This means the suggestion in a previous post that Sydney Ferries establish a new line to Glebe Point is probably not a goer.

So is there a place for ferries in the Bays Precinct?

The logical option is a new line running from Barangaroo to White Bay, with possible intermediate stops at Darling Island, somewhere near the Cruise terminal and the wharf located at the temporary convention centre site at Glebe Island. 

Even with a speed limit of 8 knots, this would make a competitive journey time of 10-12 minutes from the Power Station to Barangaroo.  It offers a direct connection to the western side of the CBD, not just for the new residential developments, but also for existing residents on the eastern edge of Rozelle and south-east Balmain.

As with any ferry line, it must be viewed in the context of the whole ferry network. If the integrated regular-interval timetable advocated in early posts is adopted, then timed transfers could be made at Barangaroo for services to the Parramatta River, Circular Quay and north Sydney.  
 Another line could also be contemplated to the Market District with one stop at the densely populated Jacksons Landing.

Quality public transport is critical to the Bays Precinct development. Transport planning must happen in tandem with urban planning, recognising that one is not the tail of the other.

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