Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Commuter Ferry from the Westshore?

The Westshore Chamber of Commerce is researching the demand for a commuter ferry from the Westshore to downtown.

The planned route would be about 9.5 kilometers, at a speed of 25 kmh this would take 23 minutes, the length of the trip is not unreasonable but there are considerations that people do not seem to be talking about.

  • How often will winter weather cancel the service?  I know that even in the sheltered waters of Esquimalt Harbour that the old Blue Boat service was cancelled due to weather at times.  The proposed route I suspect will lead to many cancelled savings from October to April.
  • How will the service be paid for?  I assume like all transit will need a subsidy, how much and from whom?  If it is part of BC Transit, they would have raise what they collect in property taxes or cut bus services somewhere to make this service work.
  • What sort of capacity are we talking about?   A single boat carrying 40-50 people would have almost no impact as it could only do one trip per hour at best.   The capacity of the SeaBus in Vancouver is 385 but those ships do not strike me as appropriate for the conditions in this area.
  • The location of the terminal in the Westshore does not seem to be very close to anyone, it would mean taking the bus or driving to the terminal to get to the boat going downtown, this seems less than ideal.
  • What will it cost to operate this service?   Without knowing a lot more details about the costs of the proposed service it is very hard to know if the idea makes any sense at all.   My suspicion is that the cost of running a boat that is capable of traversing these waters will be expensive on a per passenger basis.
I suspect this idea is not going to go anywhere because the economics of the idea are not affordable and the scale of demand is not enough to have a significant on traffic congestion.
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