With the two current vessels – Royal Iris and Snowdrop – showing signs of age a new vessel will help to safeguard the future of the world-famous ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’. Tony McDonough reports
Merseytravel has launched a three week consultation exercise asking the public for their views on how the first new Mersey Ferry for almost 60 years should look.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram revised the multi-million pound plan for a new ferry in January and now and independent consultancy have been appointed to undertake a consultation exercise.
There are currently two Mersey Ferries vessels – Royal Iris and Snowdrop (the Dazzle Ferry). Both are decades old and in more or less constant use. They operate the morning and evening commuter sailings, the hour-long daytime cruises as well as the Manchester Ship Canal cruises in the summer.
The commissioning of a new ferry represents the next step in a 20-year vision for the Mersey Ferries, which have been in operation for more than 800 years. The first service was started by monks of Birkenhead Priory.
The strategy centres on reducing the cost of the Mersey Ferries to the public purse, while exploring the commercial opportunities they present as leisure craft and visitor attractions, ensuring that the service is sustainable for the future.
The consultation, which began on August 20, will comprise a programme of engagement, with conversations in person and over the phone with hundreds of customers, local residents and visitors – as well as key groups and individuals in the region, including Friends of the Ferries and the Ferries Heritage Group.
Mr Rotheram said: “The ferry on the Mersey is an iconic symbol of our city region but the current fleet is sorely in need of an upgrade. The boats crossing the river today are actually older than the Gerry and the Pacemakers song that bear their name.
“That’s why we’re commissioning a new ferry, expected to go into service in 2021. But, before building begins, we’re asking people how they want the new vessels to look and what facilities they should have.”