The new Emerald Class ferries, which are controversially set to replace most of Manly’s larger ferry fleet, arrived in Sydney Harbour this week.
It is planned that these vessels will replace MV Queenscliff and MV Narrabeen.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said all three vessels will begin sea trials shortly to prepare them for passenger service, expected in the coming months.
“It’s great news to have these ferries in Sydney which means we are one step closer to putting these state-of-the-art vessels into customer service,” Mr Constance said in a statement.
“These ferries are purpose built to operate in heavy swells. They are also fully accessible, significantly reduce carbon emissions and will allow for more weekly services to be added to this busy route to better suit the needs of customers.”
These claims have been repeatedly disputed by campaigners vowing to Save the Manly Ferries.
A campaign to save the larger vessels, known as the Freshwater class, received 22,000 signatures and was debated in parliament earlier this year. It has been led by Northern Beaches Council Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham. The campaign has questioned the ability for the smaller vessels to handle large swells, disputed claims they are more accessible as they have more narrow passages, and has claimed the tourist and heritage value of the Manly ferry ride has been disregarded.
Labor leader, then shadow minister for transport, Chris Minns, said getting rid of the iconic vessels would be akin to “Athens tearing down the Acropolis”.
Manly MP James Griffin reiterated in the debate that two vessels would be maintained on weekends and the Council was encouraged to look at retaining the other vessels themselves if it was feasible to do so. He has consistently argued that while he wants to retain some of the fleet, the 1000-passenger vessels were much larger and slower than commuter’s required.
Sydney Ferries are operated by Transdev via contract with Transport for NSW. Transport says they “will update the community about the farewell plans for these two vessels soon.”
The Save the Manly Ferries campaigners have today re-activated their Instagram page, with Cr Bingham declaring the team is “keen to keep fighting”, claiming that the “Emerald Class are targeted squarely at commuters only, and do not run on clean energy.”
The electrification of the larger vessels has become a key pillar of their campaign.