27 Sep Nerang River Ferry service: The missing piece to the Gold Coast transport puzzle
As anyone who’s ever lived in or visited Brisbane can confirm, when you’re in the capital you’re instantly struck with the convenience the public transport system offers you.
In addition to ample buses and trains, you can also cruise from stop to stop up and down the Brisbane River on one of three ferry services CityCats, CityHoppers, and CityFerries.
Moving further down the East Coast, in 2016-17, 14.7 million passengers were carried on Sydney Ferries services operating from the Sydney Harbour to stops along the CBD and out to destinations including the beachy suburbs such as Coogee and Bondi.
When you travel to London, you can do the same thing along the infamous River Thames. Catch the Thames Clippers service and enjoy a leisurely cruise to your destination.
In well-known river cities, ferries are the public transport of choice. Not just in Queensland where the sun always shines, but across the world where a ferry passenger system enhances businesses and significantly increases opportunity for everyday locals and travellers to those regions.
When you come to the Gold Coast, travel options become much more limited.
The addition of the ‘G’ tram service in 2014 added to passenger options somewhat, but what the Gold Coast really lacks is a ferry service like all the major river cities across the world.
The Nerang River is an expanse of water that provides ample position for such a service.
The Nerang River is the largest river system on the Gold Coast and its 62-kilometre distance makes it the prime position to connect major destinations from as far north as Marina Mirage with potential stops at Broadwater Parklands, Surfers Paradise, the Arts Centre and Metricon Stadium.
Potential stakeholders have concerns that a public ferry service in this location could cause a severe wash. The Brisbane River and Sydney waterways are much wider than the Nerang River, and they don’t have the same tide bottle necks to overcome. To combat these initial challenges, a trial service could be conducted to determine the maximum speed a ferry vessel could travel without impacting on the foreshore. Modern ferries are now engineered to minimise wash making the success of this trial a real possibility.
So, what are Gold Coasters missing out on by NOT having a ferry service?
Introduction of a ferry service to the Gold Coast’s main waterway will lead to the following advantages for Gold Coasters and the millions that visit our shores each year.
1) A Gold Coast ferry service will improve property values?
According to figures reported by Coservation.com, findings revealed that “prices tend to increase for properties located close to the ferry terminals.” Within a one-kilometre radius to the ferry terminal in Brisbane, there was an average price increase of 4% above properties located further than a one-kilometre radius away.
If those statistics were mirrored on the Gold Coast if a ferry system was mobilised here, fluctuating property values could become sustainable making for a much more stable financial future for property owners and investors.
2) A Gold Coast ferry service will reduce traffic congestion.
There’s no denying that the Gold Coast has a serious congestion problem. While it’s only between 12 and 15 kilometres (depending on which route you take) between Marina Mirage and Metricon Stadium, anyone who’s ever battled the Gold Coast Highway and Ashmore Road in peak hour traffic will tell you, those 12 kilometres could easily take 45 minutes or more with the traffic lights, sheer volume of traffic, and that’s before you take into account the roadworks that frequently pop up.
With a ferry system in place, the traffic that extends working days, increases the school drop-off and pick-up times, and contributes to the general level of frustration felt by drivers across the Gold Coast could all be reduced.
Commuters could hop on the ferry and have a relaxing journey to and from work and hop off feeling energised at the other end. No beeping horns, no frustrating delays, no risk of bingles or more serious accidents, just a relaxing journey that means fewer cars on the roads.
3) A Gold Coast ferry service will give a better experience for tourists.
There’s no shortage of sightseeing tours and attractions for tourists to the Gold Coast. From the theme parks and Outback Spectacular in the north to Currumbin Wildlife sanctuary in the south, you don’t have to walk very far in between to find something fun to see or do. While the bus service and the ‘G’ offer a functional travel service for tourists, how much more pleasant could it be for visitors to travel between key destinations on a ferry?
Tourists love going on boats and taking in the scenery and viewing the Gold Coast from the water while travelling between major attractions could offer a whole new level of appreciation for the city which is currently unknown.
4) A Gold Coast ferry service could be integrated into the existing public transport system.
G, Translink, and Surfside currently provide a very satisfactory public transport system on the Gold Coast and the G specifically is currently ideal for north to south travel between Main Beach and Broadbeach.
A ferry system operating along the Nerang river could have easy integration with any or all of those services to provide frequent travellers with passes which would increase their incentive to use public transport more frequently. This would help to reduce pollution, congestion, and increase the revenue of those passenger services as people use them more frequently.
While there are currently some reservations regarding the amount of wash that a public ferry system operating along the Nerang River could generate, modelling the development of such a project on the prototype set by CityCats or CityHoppers could reduce this wash significantly and allow for a much more streamlined public transport service on the Gold Coast.
A feasibility study into a Nerang River Ferry Service would need to take place that considers all aspects and consults with all relevant stakeholders to address items such as general demand, wash, bridge clearances etc.