Plan to launch waterbus service on Clyde

26 Jan 2009

by Gerry Braiden, The Herald

Waterbuses similar to those plying the waters dividing New York could succeed if introduced to the River Clyde, with demand growing as the number of destinations increase, a year-long study has found.

The £100,000 report, which looked at similar operations in Amsterdam, Sydney, New York, London and Hamburg, found that a Clyde waterbus or ferry service between Glasgow city centre and Rothesay on Bute would attract both commuters and leisure customers.

It could even extend to Arrochar, at the top end of Loch Long, and revitalise Clydeside towns such as Bowling, which has been identified as an interchange for the vessels.

Five local authorities - Glasgow, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and Argyll and Bute - will now look to take the proposals forward, while discussions will be initiated with the Scottish Government to investigate the potential for ferry subsidies.

The study, by MVA Consultancy, recommends that expressions of interest now be sought to operate a waterbus network, with invitations for tenders issued if interest is forthcoming.

According to the study there already exists a "core demand for waterbus services" which would increase as the market grows and matures, while the Braehead shopping centre, the SECC and the Springfield Quay development would generate additional demand.

Although the river throws up physical constraints these could be overcome by the deployment of three different types of vessel - a large catamaran for downstream operations and two different types of smaller catamaran upstream.

Hovercraft capable of operating in both upstream and downstream could also be deployed, although noise concerns and limitations make them a less-attractive option.

It is reckoned waterbuses could be integrated into the wider transport network by a variety of measures such as park and ride, integrated ticketing, bus links and stops located in close proximity to the Subway and rail stations.

Bowling, between Clydebank and Dumbarton, is identified as the "interchange location" as it has existing facilities that can be utilised which Erskine on the opposite banks does not. Maintenance and overnight berthing would also be accommodated at Bowling.

It also identified demand for the provision of leisure services focused on Loch Long, particularly Arrochar, and claims these services should be provided as part of a network but it said the provision of a pier at Arrochar was a necessity to open up this market.

Some 13 vessels in total would be required for an effective and sustainable service.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport will now lead the working group made up of representatives of the five councils, while discussions with Clydeport, the Marine and Coastguard Agency and the Queen's Harbourmaster will commence.

Glasgow's executive member for development and regeneration services, George Ryan, said: "Not only would the creation of this type of service encourage the use of Glasgow's rivers and canals but it would improve connectivity between the north and south banks of the Clyde and support the ongoing economic development and regeneration activities along the waterfront."

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group.

  • Plans to launch waterbus service on Clyde

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