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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Pyrmont Bay Terminal Review

The new ferry wharf at Pyrmont Bay opened on Tuesday 8 September. It is one of the many new terminals built by Roads and Maritime services over the last five years, starting with Milsons Point (completed December 2010).

At the outset, it must be questioned whether Pyrmont Bay has a long term future as a ferry terminal. As the crow flies, it sits 200 metres from King Street wharf, a distance perfectly suited to a pedestrian/cycle bridge. That would be a much more convenient way for people to move between Pyrmont Bay and King Street or Barangaroo South.

A ferry terminal on Darling Island, situated on almost a direct line from Barangaroo South to the Rozelle Power Station in the Bays Precinct, would make a lot more sense than Pyrmont Bay, especially if the current cruise terminal at Balmain is developed into a major residential precinct. A new line from Barangaroo with stops at Darling Island, Balmain South, Glebe Island and Rozelle Power Station is a far better option.

But aside from whether or not it was necessary to build a new terminal at Pyrmont Bay, how does the wharf perform?

Well, it is better than the old stepped wharf, but not much better.

A previous post pointed out some serious design problems, which have unfortunately not been addressed. The small pontoon and single ramp are not adequate for crowds likely during major events, especially the Vivid Festival. Disembarking passengers will be met by a wall of people trying to board. That's not safe and will cause delays. 

The other curious feature is that although the pontoon is perpendicular to the shoreline, there is only one berthing face. This is a wharf used by other ferry operators and party boats, so two berth faces would seem an obvious requirement.

And when did Opal readers stop being located close to the pontoon? At both Pyrmont Bay and the recently opened Balmain East wharf, the only Opal card readers are on the landside, a sizeable walk from the pontoon. Woe betide the poor passenger who only remembers to tap on just as the gangway is planked. The sprint back to the Opal card reader may cause them to miss the ferry.  

It is time for a re-think about the Sydney Ferry network and some fastidious planning to make sure wharf infrastructure investments better match operational and customer requirements. 

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