September 8th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances


I was very sorry to wake up this morning to the news that, at least for now, the Rochester-Toronto ferry service is no more. Now I'm particularly glad that I had the chance to ride it once. I had a wonderful experience on it. I still haven't posted the pictures from that trip, but I think I'll do in the near future. It won't just be to show you what you missed - hopefully it'll also give you reason to go on the service should it be restored. The mayors of both Toronto and Rochester have publically said they'll try to reinstate it.

With some good reason, the mayor of Toronto did some finger pointing today in the direction of the Toronto Port Authority, which has been in ongoing conflict with the mayor. Unlike Rochester, which has a shiny new terminal, the Toronto Port Authority entirely failed to build a terminal for arriving passengers. We arrived at portacabins, chain link fences, and inadequate information. Just a few weeks ago, the newspaper ran the headline that ground had finally been broken on the parking lot which would have become the ferry terminal. (When I was there, local staff said the site didn't have running water yet, as of July.)

According to the Toronto Star article, more than 140,000 passengers went on the ferry in its 80 days of operation. That's an average of at least 1750 people per day. As of mid-July, it was doing 2 return trips per day. At one point it was going to go to three return trips a day, but I don't know if that ever happened. Presuming four one-way trips a day, that's an average of approximately 438 people per trip. The Toronto Star profile (the ferry website is down) tells me that it can hold 750 passengers. That's an average of fifty-eight percent full.

For its first few months, that seems like a respectacle starting basis, but I don't work in the transportation industry, and the ferry had more problems than not operating at or even overly near capacity: no terminal at Toronto, no permission from the US gov't to transport cargo trucks, and a seven-week delay in starting up due to delays in the delivery of equipment, i.e. the ship. The service was doing well enough that it's opening to be back in working order by spring at the latest, perhaps much sooner. I certainly hope it will be.