Monday, 8 May 2017

1990: The Jetcats enter service

In 1990, the Griener Government introduced the Jetcat ferries into operation on Sydney Harbour. This stemmed from the decision of NSW Transport Minister Bruce Baird in 1988 to replace the ageing hydrofoils.

  Hydrofoils to be scrapped 1988 

Source: Nicholson, L. 1988. "Costly hydrofoils will be scrapped". The Daily Telegraph, August 22, 9.

The Jetcats promised a modern and more reliable service for Ferry Commuters. For the government, the costs of servicing the Jetcats would be lower. In addition, there was the promise of more comfort for commuters. There were plans to eventually expand the service to Gladesville but also operate as far as Port Kembla and Newcastle.

  Sydney Transport April 30 1990 daily telegraph 15

Source: Morris, L. 1990. "Jetcat to oust the hydrofoils". The Daily Telegraph, April 30, 15. 

The first Jetcat to enter service was The Blue Fin. It ended up with its name after the public were asked to name the new ferry.

  jetcat april 29 1990 daily telegraph

Source: Anomonyous. 1990. "Blue Fin slices time to Manly". The Sunday Telegraph, April 29, page unknown.

Jetcat naming ad March 21 1990 The Daily Telegraph

Source: State Transit. 1990. "Name Your Own $5m. Catamaran" (Advertisement). The Daily Telegraph, March 21, page unknown. 

The Blue Fin commenced operation on July 16 1990 after three months of trials. Below is a preview article from The Daily Telegraph.

Jetcat July 16 1990 daily telegraph 

Source: Riddell, A. 1990. "Anchors away for new Jetcat". The Daily Telegraph, July 16, 12. 

 The hydrofoils after 26 years of service ran their last service in March 1991 after another two Jetcats - Sir David Martin and Sea Eagle were bought into service. During their first decade of service, The Jetcats were actively used. In fact they were seen as a fifth ferry on the Manly run, replacing the regular ferries late at night and early in the morning. It was argued that with fewer crew needed (and commuter demand), operating late night services would keep costs of operating the broader Manly Ferry service down. If existing ferries broke down, the Jetcat fleet would act as a substitute (as a trio), like in 2004 when two Manly Ferries - Collaroy and Queenscliff were out of service for maintainence. In the final years of service, Jetcats were restricted to peak hour operations only.

 Sadly, The Jetcat fleet sadly had a shorter life than their predecessors. Jetcats were withdrawn from service on December 31, 2008. It was argued that costs had increased along with declines in revenue. They were lucky not to have been pulled out of service earlier, when the Carr Government (1995-2005) introduced Supercats to the Sydney Ferries Fleet but had struggled to cope with the swells at the Heads of Sydney Harbour. Manly Fast Ferries (2009) currently operate High speed services between Manly and Circular Quay, but have expanded to provide services from Manly to North Sydney, Darling Harbour, Pyrmont Bay and the Eastern Suburbs. Sydney Fast Ferries also operated services between 2010 and 2015, when they were the tender to operate the high speed service.