EDITORIAL | Riverine ferry services have huge potential


No matter how many roads and freeways are widened and improved, traffic congestion in major, or even minor, cities seems to worsen remorselessly. A practical antidote to that can be high quality riverine or sheltered coastal ferry services.

The key to making such services successful appears to be the selection of high quality ferries of appropriate size. They must be crewed by high quality, well-directed people and their frequency and scheduling must be carefully tailored to the routes they serve.

I’m currently in London for the 2019 Interferry Conference. Our host company is mbna Thames Clippers. I have taken advantage of that by making several trips on the company’s boats during my visit and I have to say that I am very impressed.

Their boats are modern, low wash, aluminium catamarans. They are very well maintained, very clean and comfortable and well equipped with safety equipment which their crews are well-trained to operate. They are reliable and their schedules appropriate to their routes. Simply put, they are a very attractive, quick and convenient means of transport.

A major factor in their success is their very effective and tight management and reporting systems under founder and CEO Sean Collins. That, hopefully, will be the subject of a future article. From a brief look, it is very impressive.

London’s diabolical traffic problems are well known but they are hardly unique. There are many other cities around the world where first rate ferry services could circumvent the traffic in a similar way to that achieved so successfully in London by Thames Clippers. Paris is an obvious starter, as are Cairo, Budapest, Vienna, Hamburg, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Manila, Melbourne, Rio, New Orleans and innumerable other cities where such services scarcely, if at all, exist.

A detailed examination of the very impressive Thames Clippers operation would be an obvious starting point for a feasibility study for such a project.

See all the other content from this month’s Passenger Vessel Week right here, including reviews, features, opinions and news.

Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.