Manly’s large Freshwater class ferry, whose farewell tour was first announced more than two years ago, has knocked Johnny Farnham off his perch as the come back king.
Transport Minister David Elliot announced today that the iconic class of vessel will return to daily use, having originally been announced as retiring in 2020.
The Freshies were then reduced to weekends and public holidays only, while their recently-introduced replacements, the faster but significantly smaller, twin-hulled Emerald Class II ferries, ran the regular weekday timetable.
Under the new timetable one Freshwater vessel will run every two hours seven days week in addition to the newer Emerald II ferries.
Manly Observer confirmed with Mr Elliot’s office today that only one of the large ferries will now be operating on weekends rather than two. This will either be MV Collaroy or MV Freshwater.
MV Queenscliff will be refurbished and replace the Collaroy in summer, it was revealed.
The decision to bring the Freshwater ferries on seven days a week follows a suite of issues with the newer smaller, but faster Emerald class vessels that were to fully replace them.
The main issues have revolved around their suitability to handle the regular swell on the route, but also the loss of a major tourist attraction with the larger ships.
Manly MP James Griffin, who has long advocated for a ‘hybrid model’ of the new and old vessels, said the change will also add an extra 30 services to the route per week.
“Having the Freshwater ferries servicing Manly seven days a week alongside the faster Emerald boat for commuters is the right balance and a great outcome,” he said.
“There is a huge amount of local passion for the Freshwater ferries and having them back in service on weekdays gives commuters and visitors more opportunities to experience the beautiful harbour from one of these iconic ferries,” he said.
Northern Beaches Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham, who has led the charge to retain the larger fleet with the Save The Manly Ferry campaign group said today’s announcement was a good start.
“Clearly the Emerald class ferries are simply not up to the task,” she said. “Continued defect issues and the ferries being out of service for weeks at a time is not what is needed for this iconic Sydney ferry route.”
Just last month NSW Government Shadow Transport Minister, Jo Haylen MP, visited Manly to meet with campaigners about applying political pressure for the reintroduction of the two remaining Freshwater Class ferries for full-time deployment between Manly and Circular Quay.
Minister Elliot today confirmed, however, that two Freshwater vessels will still be retired and disposed of in 2023.
You can read our archived stories about the Freshwater ferry issue below: