A Hunter business group is lobbying the state government to open new ferry stops at Wickham and Carrington.
An internal survey conducted by Throsby Basin Business Chamber showed that 54.55 per cent of respondents wanted a terminal at Wickham, while 40.91 per cent preferred a new ferry stop at Carrington. The remaining votes either opted for another wharf at Stockton or voted for “other”.
Chamber president Clare Monkley presented the findings to Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald on Tuesday – who will pass the results on to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance.
Ms Monkley said the Wickham berth, where ferries were often docked overnight near the Carrington Bridge, would be an ideal place for a new terminal because there was already a wharf there.
She said businesses in the area were keen for a boost in passing traffic and the recent Supercars event showed people were willing to use public transport if it was available.
“I think, now that we’ve got the [Newcastle] Interchange just down the road, it would be easy for people coming from Stockton to be able to come right around this area,” Ms Monkley said.
“I’ve been the [chamber] president for four years now and it’s one of the things we’ve been talking about for a long time. It’s been one of the things we’ve been hoping we might get because it’s just, we feel, so easy to do.
“It wouldn’t take that much to turn it into a place where passengers could get on and off.”
Extra ferry services have been identified in the state government’s Draft Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan as well as the Draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, which were both released last month.
“It is thought that there will be an extension of services, so this [survey] does help that thinking – it probably brings it forward a little bit,” Mr MacDonald said.
“I think it’s all part of the story of Newcastle developing, growing, getting people onto public transport.”
The draft future transport plan, which sets out aims up to 2056, listed a “Newcastle ferry network extension” as one of the initiatives to be investigated in the next 10 to 20 years, “subject to business case development”.
The draft metro plan, released last Thursday, noted that Transport for NSW would “investigate an extension to the ferry network, including a new ferry wharf with pedestrian access to the Newcastle Interchange”.
The Herald reported in October that lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes believed new ferry stops at Wickham and Stockton should be “a very strong part” of the government’s Lower Hunter transport master plan.