The Tasmanian Government has tasked Metro Tasmania with conducting a study into the feasibility of a ferry service between Bellerive and Hobart to help reduce traffic congestion.
A ferry between the two shores has the capacity to be the infrastructure needed for people who want to cross the river by foot or bicycle.
The Tasman Bridge shared walkway and cycleway is too narrow and exposed to wind to be most people’s preferred option.
Ideally, the ferry service would be free as it could operate in place of an adequate bridge for walking and riding. This is what happens in Amsterdam, with ferries across the IJ River operating for free and designed so bicycles can be easily ridden on and and off.
Commuters could use ferries
While people who currently ride across the Tasman Bridge are likely to keep doing so, a ferry may encourage people who want to ride but don’t because the bridge turns them off.
If a ferry is going to be part of a network that helps people commute, then bicycles must be permitted during peak hour trips and dedicated areas set aside for them to easily get on and off.
Ferries in some other Australian states allow people to carry bicycles for free but foot passengers are sometimes given priority if the ferry is full. If catching a ferry is going to work for commuters then the process should be quick and reliable.
There also needs to be ample, secure bicycle parking for passengers. People who work near Sullivans Cove may choose to ride to Bellerive, lock up their bike, catch the ferry then walk the rest of the way to work.
While the government's focus is cutting traffic congestion, a ferry could also be a useful tool for tourism. Cruise ships dock on the western shore of the river but a ferry could open up the eastern shore and its tracks and trails to visitors.
This is common in places like San Francisco, where businesses hire bikes to tourists and ferries have ample bike rack storage on-board.
Metro issued a short-lived online survey at the beginning of October to call for community feedback and held a forum in Bellerive on 3 October. The consultants working with Metro are due to deliver their report to the Tasmanian Government in December this year.