Alexander is a First Fleet ferry and they are named after the ships that arrived in Australia as the first fleet of ships from Portsmouth to Sydney Cove. But tourists and Sydney day trippers don't care too much for the First Fleet Ferries. Not their business. Nevertheless, the state government has decided to upgrade them and the annual Australia Day race between the First Fleet ferries on Sydney Harbour will continue.
While government owned, Sydney Ferries is operated by the French giant Transdev. Transdev in Melbourne is on the nose with the public and certainly with the state government. It has not acquitted itself well as a private bus operator in Melbourne.
On I think Easter Monday, Sydney Ferries carried the most passengers it ever has. The weather was fine and warm and it was a public holiday. The busiest ferry would have been the ferry to Manly, an obligatory trip for us when we visit Sydney and for many. Even local people like to make the trip to Manly by ferry.
The Freshwater class of ferries makes the trip from Circular Quay to Manly and what a great ferry they are. As a commuter and tourist ferry, it is a large beast, capable of carrying 1200 people and often doing so. It has air conditioning in the large interior seating area and various open decks at the side and fore and aft on a couple of decks. While once the staff could be a bit rough around the edges, they seem quite professional now. Harbour ferries are part of Sydney's public transport system, so it not expensive to use. They are fast, comfortable and being double ended, efficient. Summer days, the Manly Ferry can have figures of transporting 45,000 people a day.
It will be a sad day when Transdev retires them next year (really? Transdev is paying for the new ferries?) and they are replaced with a slightly faster but smaller modern ferry operating to a more frequent schedule. Don't you love how governments when contracting out operations can blame or lay responsibility to the private company, when in this case, I am sure the NSW taxpayers will be paying for the new ferries.
Meanwhile in a Scandinavian country, ferries are being upgraded to being powered by electric motors, with batteries charged while they are moored at ferry terminals.
Why not do that with the Freshwater Class of ferry?
For whatever reason and odd as it seems, the New South Wales' motoring organisation had set up a rival smaller but faster ferry service to Manly. Very strange indeed. But local Manly people like the faster service.
I've put this photo up before, and I like the photo, showing a smaller First Fleet ferry and the larger Manly Freshwater class. Save the Manly Freshwater class ferry, please. We like 'em big and we know their times. Speed is not everything and certainly not for tourists.
This post is a bit boring, so I will chuck in a few more Sydney ferry photos. The First Fleet ferry, Scarborough.
First Fleet ferry, Friendship.
I remain puzzled as to why a motoring organisation club runs a ferry service in competition with Harbour City Ferries.