Ferry no longer needs council subsidies
THE cross-harbour ferry service in Bristol's docks has been such a success that it no longer has to be subsidised by council taxpayers.
The ferry operates between a jetty near the ss Great Britain and Canon's Marsh on the opposite side of the docks.
A single fare for an adult is 70p and provides an easy shortcut across the docks for commuters and tourists.
A new five-year contract has been awarded to Number Seven Boat Trips to operate the ferry at no cost to the council.
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Previously, the cost to the council was £36,100 a year.
Passenger figures have more than doubled during the period of the last contract from 61,653 passengers in 2008 to 154,304 passengers in 2011.
The ferry company has updated the vessel during the past five years by replacing the excessively powered and environmentally unfriendly engine with smaller and an increasingly 'green' range of outboard motors. The company will shortly introduce a 'hybrid' powered vessel utilising a combination of energy sources that will not only be more economical to run but also vastly reduce the carbon footprint on what is already a highly efficient power source.
Director and skipper Richard Rankin said: "We knew we could make this work and we have. The response to the ferry has been phenomenal and I'm very proud of what we have achieved."
Lib Dem Cabinet Councillor Tim Kent said: "This is our model for supporting transport services.
"Funds to kick-start and develop an innovative and useful transport service should be withdrawn and used elsewhere when the service is successfully attracting enough passengers.
"It worked with rail – the Severn Beach Line, and it worked here.
"We will continue to ensure value for money for the council tax payer by taking care in selecting responsible providers for all supported transport services, monitoring evidence and working with them to minimise the pressure on the council's funds.
"Number Seven are great to work with, as they already have that 'can do' attitude, and are proud to go it alone when they have the capability."
Number Seven Boat Trips also operate a ferry service in the harbour between Hotwells, the city centre and Temple Meads.
The service operates all year round, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Monday to Friday 7.30am to 6.15pm, Saturday and Sunday 10.30am to 5.30pm.
For more information, visit www.numbersevenboattrips.com.