Published: November 20, 2009 12:24 PM http://www.bermudasun.org
Bid to rescue ferry service
Opposition leader Kim Swan is calling for the St George's commuter ferry to be restored.
The UBP MP said the service - cut amid claims that it wasn't being used by enough people to justify the cost - was a vital link for residents of the east end town to Hamilton.
And he believes Government should have promoted the service better or changed the times to make it more appealing to commuters, rather than just cancelling it.
He said the authorities needed to persuade more commuters to make the "mindset shift" from relying on their cars to usingpublic transport.
And he believes promoting the ferry properly could have had an impact on Bermuda's growing congestion problem.
"Traffic from the east end is getting to be just as bad as from Somerset. It is a frustrating commute from St. George's nowadays.
"Coming in on the ferry is a good way to start your day and it helps to decrease traffic congestion into Hamilton.
"It doesn't make sense to cancel it without considering other options."
He said efforts could be made to promote the benefits of using the ferry - a far more serene commute than the exhaust fume fuelled grind of early morning traffic jams.
Mr. Swan believes regular users of the service, many of whom have expressed dismay at its cancellation, could be enlisted to promote its benefits to others.
"We need to have a consistent service to encourage more East-Enders to change their commuter habits. Ending the service will not only be counter-productive, but another blow to the St. George's community," he added.
Mr Swan, also the MP for St George's West has written to Premier Dr. Ewart Brown with a list of suggestions to make the ferry service viable.
One simple solution, he said, would be to push back the time of the evening ferry from Hamilton to St. George's.
The ferry currently leaves at 5.20pm - too early for some office workers, many of whom don't finish until 5.30pm.
He added that a commuter link, similar to those used in the west, could also increase the numbers of people using the ferry.
"Areas such as Ferry Reach and Wellington, Southside and St. David's could be encouraged to ride the ferry if there was a regularly promoted commuter link.
"These rapidly growing communities can be encouraged to appreciate the ferry service in much the same way Southampton residents were encouraged to use the Rockaway ferry service.
"It takes time and effort to change commuter habits. We urge Government to seriously rethink this decision.
"St. George's needs this service and if continued we can help promote greater passenger loads among local commuters."
Another cost-cutting measure proposed by Mr. Swan is to base the ferry in St. George's and save the fuel and maintenance costs incurred by driving it to and from the Hamilton depot every day.