Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Hovercraft transit firm makes bid to revive Toronto-Rochester ferry

with 8 comments

Globe and Mail

This is one of those stories that has a familiar ring. I know I have heard of a similar idea before. And sure enough there at the bottom of the story is

In 2004, a privately owned venture using a catamaran made in Australia was shut down after less than three months, and the vessel was then sold for $32-million (U.S.) to the City of Rochester, which closed the service in early 2006 after losing $10-million in 10 months.

I do not know why they think a Hovercraft will do better than a catamaran. I have used the very craft they speak of when they were in use between Dover and Calais – and while it was fast it was not a fun experience. You were required to keep to your seat, just like in a plane. None of that wandering around you can do on ferries. You could see nothing out of the windows because of the wall of spray thrown up by the air cushion. Sure it was quicker than the ferry, but so what. It required just as much queueing, and you could not enjoy the ride.

It is also appalling that the City of Rochester got stuck for $32 m for a useless catamaran. The Washington Group picked up three for around two thirds of that.

Fast ferries and working ferry SeaBus

Two of three “fast cats” tied up in North Vancouver while another “slow cat” keeps on plugging away

I wonder what Rochester did with theirs?

Written by Stephen Rees

April 9, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Transportation

8 Responses

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  1. Forgive me a story. When I was returning from an European holiday in 1983, I took a ferry from Belgium to Dover. The spring weather was atrocious and the North Sea wind was more than brisk. Our trip was delayed many hours as 4 ferry’s were hove-to trying to act as a breakwater for the Dover-Calais hovercraft which was in serious trouble in the high seas.

    This made our trip rather grim, but not as grim as those souls in the hovercraft, which later news reports claimed many people were injured and every vehicle carried was damaged.

    Malcolm J.

    April 9, 2008 at 8:48 pm

  2. I think that the weather in the English Channel is likely more severe than Lake Ontario, but certainly hovercraft are not good foul weather craft

    Stephen Rees

    April 10, 2008 at 8:36 am

  3. I took a ride on an SRN6 across the Solent to Ryde on the Isle of Wight once, many moons ago, and whilst it was a tick on my to do list, it wasn’t something I wished to repeat. It was a very noisy, bumpy ride across a fairly calm sea.

    Chris Piggott

    April 10, 2008 at 9:29 am

  4. The Royal Sealink Express to Nanaimo in the early 90s could be a queasy ride at times; the service that operated in the early 2000s seemed a bit better.

    David

    April 10, 2008 at 12:34 pm

  5. The Royal SeaLink was before my time here – but there was also a passenger only catamaran in 2005 which did not last long

    Stephen Rees

    April 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm

  6. I’ve taken the Clipper from Victoria to Seattle before, and I have to agree, it’s not much fun.

    Paul Holden

    April 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm

  7. The Victoria Clipper is a fast catamaran similar to short lived harbour Lynx service between Vancouver and Nanaimo.

    Stephen Rees

    April 11, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  8. […] Others who travelled by hovercraft in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, however, would question whether the mode of transportation lived up to its billing, commenting on the loud engines and the need to be strapped into one’s seat. […]


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