AN inner city ferry commuter service is a step closer with the potential operator encouraged by recent trials.
Businessman Paul Little wants to run the service between Docklands and the Church St Bridge to appeal to residents and shoppers around Chapel St.
Mr Little, who owns Portarlington to Docklands operator Port Phillip Ferries, said trials on the Yarra River had been positive.
“We’re still going through the viability but it’s looking encouraging,” he told the Herald Sun.
“Since we made more public our interest in running the service we’ve had a lot of other parties approach us about the possibility of having stations along the way. It’s quite exciting.”
Mr Little, the former Essendon Football Club chairman, said the next step was to work out how many stops to have.
“(Lord Mayor) Robert Doyle speaks a lot about shoppers wanting to access Chapel St without the need to be parking vehicles and so forth, so I think there’d be an element of shopping and day trippers there,” he said.
Cr Doyle said that Mr Little was a man of vision and determination and “I’ve always been optimistic about his proposal”.
“And if things are going in the right direction, that’s great news for Melbourne commuters,” he said. “I love that Melbourne is a place where we work together to get things done so while there may be obstacles to making this service a reality, I am hopeful that we can work through them.”
Port Phillip Ferries is getting a new purpose-built vessel to better suit bay conditions for the Portarlington service, which has been running since last year after a trial between Docklands and Wyndham Harbour failed.
Mr Little said the future of the Portarlington route was still being considered.
“Operationally it’s wonderful, it’s just getting our heads around whether it’s a commuter service or whether it’s more, I guess, appealing to people who want to use it as more of a tourist type thing or a combination of both,” he said.
The firm is currently offering a special where commuters pay just one-way for the $27 return service leaving Portarlington at 7am and returning from Docklands at 5.30pm.
This article was originally published in the Herald Sun.
John Masanauskas, City Editor, Herald Sun
September 4, 2017 5:07pm