Ferry Logo

Ferry Logo

Sunday, 6 August 2017

More thoughts on Barangaroo Ferry Terminal

It is easy to be critical of new transport infrastructure. I'm usually reluctant to do so, because there are often good reasons for compromises in a design solution which the general public are not privy to. We are not aware of all the issues that need to be taken into account by the design team.

In any case, humans are fallible and mistakes are inevitable. They can often be fixed later. The First Fleet ferries were originally designed with a single midships gangway. A stern gangway gate was added later and the midships gangway gates were more recently widened to accommodate double gangways. These improvements make passenger loading faster at floating pontoon wharves.

Much as I want to be sanguine about Sydney's latest ferry infrastructure - the new terminal at Barangaroo - there is at least one design fault which is hard to fathom. Wharf stanchions - what non mariners might call fences - are positioned so that when a First Fleet ferry berths, the stern gangway is blocked off. Passengers can only disembark or load via the midships gangway.
The stern of a First Fleet ferry berthed at Barangaroo
After October, it is planned that the new Emerald Class boats will replace First Fleeters on the Barangaroo run, but the problem will remain as the Emerald stern gangway will line up in the same position.

Normally passengers can disembark and load via the midships gangway only without causing delays. The layover is currently a relaxed seven minutes for most of the day. But it becomes a problem when there is crowding on school holiday Sundays or during special events, when the faster loading afforded by two gangways becomes essential to keep ferries on time.

And we cannot assume the scheduled layover will always be seven minutes. Future network changes may require a tighter turnaround.

How did this happen? Who knows, but when the primary purpose of a ferry wharf is to allow for the efficient and safe transfer of passengers between boat and land, you would expect that free access to both the stern and midships gangways was a number one consideration. Evidently it wasn't.

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