A FAST ferry that could revolutionise travel between Newcastle and Sydney is due to begin operating in May.
Australian Hovercraft Services managing director Ian Brookfield will travel to Singapore in the next few weeks to purchase a $4.5million 333-seat dual-deck ferry to put on the Newcastle-to-Sydney run.
A weekly return ticket is expected to cost about $360, while a single return ticket will cost about $90.
The ferry will depart Queens Wharf, Newcastle at 6am and arrive at Circular Quay about 8.15am.
It will then proceed to Wollongong before heading back to Sydney on the return trip.
‘‘Subject to sea trials, we are trying to organise two return trips to Sydney a day,’’ Mr Brookfield said.
The ambitious venture has emerged despite numerous studies over the past 20 years that have cast doubt on the commercial viability of such a service.
But Mr Brookfield, who is also launching a Gladstone-to-Bundaberg tourist ferry service within the next month, said he was satisfied that the Newcastle-to-Sydney route was viable.
‘‘These types of services take many months and sometimes years to get up and running, however, after all the hurdles that get thrown in the way, this service is now very close to becoming a reality,’’ he said.
‘‘People have been complaining for long enough about the need for better transport between Newcastle and Sydney. Here’s an opportunity to support it.’’
Mr Brookfield said the company would shortly apply to the state government to operate the service from Queens Wharf and Circular Quay.
Newcastle MP Tim Owen said the government was keen to discuss Mr Brookfield’s plans with him.
‘‘We are certainly interested in talking to anyone who wants to operate an extra transport service between Newcastle and Sydney,’’ Mr Owen said.
Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy said the service would fill a gap left by the sea plane and Aeropelican services.
‘‘It’s great to see someone with initiative. I think it’s a fantastic idea, I wish him every success and I’ll be first on board,’’ he said.
‘‘Driving back and forth [to Sydney], when you are on the phone