Andrew Constance has defended the decision to buy 10 new ferries after it was revealed that some travellers will need to move seats when they go under certain Sydney bridges.
The NSW Transport Minister has called for critics to “take a chill pill” when condemning the fact passengers aboard the state’s new River Class Ferries will have to move to the lower deck as the vessels approach the Camellia Railway Bridge and Gasworks Bridge on the Parramatta River.
The new ferries, which were built at shipyards in Singapore and Indonesia and specifically designed for the Sydney Ferries operation, are expected to enter service later in the year, and will operate as part of the ferry network along the Parramatta River and on Inner Harbour routes.
However, with the decision to include an upper deck on the 10 new vessels, which a Transport for NSW (TfNSW) spokesperson said was made so passengers can enjoy the sights of Sydney “for the majority of their journey”, travellers will need to be called below deck so the vessels can pass beneath the bridges.
Opposition transport spokesman Chris Minns described the design as a “fiasco”, which Constance said was not true.
“I just think everyone needs to take a chill pill and realise this is a good news story, not a bad one,” Constance said, as reported by ABC News.
“They’ve been purposely designed this way so that commuters and those who enjoy the river cats can get outside.”
Constance said the decision to include viewing decks was made to improve the experience of passengers.
“A lot of people do like to get outside on ferries and enjoy the wonderful scenery and fresh air,” he said.
“At the moment, you can’t get outside on river cats … [soon] they’re going to be able to get outside for the first time so that’s a great outcome.”
Speaking to Travel Weekly, a TfNSW spokesperson said Transdev Sydney Ferries would implement operational procedures to support the movement of passengers from top to lower decks through signage, announcements and crew on board directing customers.
“The process of customers moving to the lower deck between Rydalmere and Parramatta (one stop) is already in place for the existing fleet of charter vessels currently used by Transdev Sydney Ferries,” the spokesperson said.
“These charter vessels have a viewing deck, while other vessels used by Transdev Sydney Ferries on the Parramatta River do not.
“The clearance requirements of the Camellia Railway Bridge and Gasworks Bridge has always been known and considered as part of the ferry design.”
The spokesperson added that while the vessels had been built in Singapore and Indonesia, more than two-thirds of the material used for construction of the vessels was sourced from Australia.
“Much of the equipment installed on board has also been sourced from Australian suppliers,” the spokesperson added.
Featured image source: iStock/kokkai