NSW Labor is urging newly appointed Transport Minister Rob Stokes to reverse the Government’s decision to retire the Queenscliff, one of Sydney’s iconic Manly Ferries.
In a letter sent to Minister Stokes yesterday, Shadow Transport Minister Jo Haylen raised serious concerns about retiring the Queenscliff from the Manly run.
Ms Haylen moved a motion in the NSW Parliament at the first opportunity to call on Minister Stokes to save the Queenscliff.
The overseas built Emeralds meant to replace the Queenscliff have been beset with design and operational problems and are yet to come into service. They are also unable to safely carry passengers in swells that are over three metres which commonly occur during the crossing of Sydney Heads.
The Government has not confirmed that a replacement bus service will be offered in these conditions, which raise the prospect of cancellations and reduced services.
Capacity on the replacement Emerald Class is only 400, compared to the Queenscliff and other Freshwater Class Manly ferries which sit 1,100 passengers. Such a significant drop in capacity could mean that passengers are left on the wharf during the Manly service’s summer peak.
Even though restrictions have been eased, Transport for NSW has said that normal services on the Manly route would not resume until later in the year.
Shadow Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said:
“Rob Stokes must save the Queenscliff. Mothballing one of our iconic Manly ferries will lead to service cancellations, delays and reduced capacity right at the start of the service’s summer peak.
“The replacement Emerald Class ferries have been in Sydney for more than nine months but they are yet to carry a single passenger. Their maintenance and safety issues haven’t been resolved, there are questions about whether they can cross the heads, and it seems doubtful they’ll be ready in time for summer.
“Restrictions are easing and Sydneysiders are keen to hit the beaches but the Government’s plan to scrap the Queenscliff comes at the worst possible time.”