The proposed ferry would transport up to 400 commuters. Image via Flickr
The call for a study has been made by boat enthusiasts residing in Niagara with the goal of building a ferry to transport city-goers to downtown Toronto. The idea is to alleviate highway traffic by creating a 45-minute boat journey taking off between Niagara and Hogtown. Considering the choppy waters of Lake Ontario, the ferry would make for a physically large and expensive project: but vocal leaders in St. Catherines are confident that it would be a great contribution to commuter transit woes.
St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan quickly backed the idea after former council candidate Sean Polden brought it to the table last week. Polden believes that steps can be made to bring the ferry to life starting with polling from the provincial government and backing from GO Transit. “The only way this would work is through GO Transit operating it.”
The ferry idea isn’t new. Ontario Environment Minister Jim Bradley told the Niagara Falls review that it’s brought up every ten years or so, but it has just “not worked, ever.” Previous studies have shown that there might not be enough commuters who would be up for the ferry ride at a volume that the operations would require to break even. But with the commuter population having grown since research in 2001, an another call for a feasibility study is being made by supporters residing in the St. Catharines region.
Polden envisions three ferries running, carrying between 300 and 400 people per boat. The proposed ferry would run for three seasons and take a break come winter. It would stand as an easy alternative to the two hour GO bus trip and heavy QEW traffic that commuters face today. Polden is confident that this time around there will be enough public support to make the project worthwile.
The short, rough waters and issues going into the harbour at Toronto complicated the city’s last attempt to implement the route. Former spokesman for failed ferry company Shaker Cruise Lines says a successful system is possible in the area under consideration, but it will take time. “You have to come in prepared to build a market…. people won’t rush onto the boat right away,” Peter Green told the Niagara Falls Review. With social media exploding with enthuasiasm last Thursday and Friday from Niagara area supporters, we don’t think that’s out of the question.
Farrah Khaled is an intern at the Toronto Standard. Follow her on twitter at @farkhaly.