Comment posted Possible weather disruption to Gourock ferry services 14th and 15th June by Robert Wakeham.
Ferryman: ‘perhaps someone can come up with a better solution’ – they did centuries ago, things called pontoons (sometimes called landing stages) And these days, for places where pontoons are impractical, or would cost too much, there can be adjustable passenger ramps that are a huge improvement over the traditional gangway, on either the wharf or the ferry. But I’m sure that you know all this already, don’t you?
Robert Wakeham also commented
- Ferryman, I don’t think you’re really interested in sensible debate.
- Ferryman, the gangways on the streakers were so bad that why shouldn’t I criticise them? You’re right that I only used the service once in a blue moon, but so what? You just don’t seem to be able to take valid comment – and look for excuses to discount it, but I really don’t understand why unless you think that you’re the only person entitled to comment on this ferry service.
If something clearly needs to be done in a different way in the future, why such reluctance to have open discussion about it? Your references to Michael Russell, to people wanting a reliable service, and to the existing service being unable to cope with summer weather, are in your mind linked to my comments? How?
- ‘The only purpose anyone seems to give for pontoons is to “improve” the existing service’.
No, Ferryman. Why do you think that they’re not relevant to the future of the service, with new boats?
Do you think the ‘current linkspan’ (one at each terminal) is suitable for passenger use as well as for the vehicle traffic that’s stated to be essential for these ferries – are you proposing mixed use?
At Gourock the linkspan is fine for the vehicle route through the terminal but hardly ideal for the pedestrian route for rail passengers.
You compare the behaviour of pontoons unfavourably with that of linkspans, but this isn’t true in reality – you seem to be keen to imagine disadvantages that don’t exist, and even introduce total red herrings – they have to be designed to be stout enough for the sea conditions, so what have easterly winds got to do with it? If the weather’s too bad for the boats to operate (and I don’t mean just the existing boats) then pontoons wouldn’t be in use. As for ‘the lady complained about the ride being too rough, would pontoons help, not at all’ – what have pontoons got to do with the ride being too rough? My point is that pontoons would make passenger access on and off the ferries much easier, and your assurance that you have absolutely nothing against pontoons is contradicted by your imagined objections to them. You seem very confused, but maybe this just reflects some basic conflicts between what’s best for vehicles and what’s best for people, as things stand – especially at Gourock.
- Bill, I can understand your determination not to get involved in the ferry debate again, given how much has been said previously, but I make no apologies for vigorously arguing my corner in the face of a good deal of abuse, ignorance and tunnel vision from people who don’t seem to want to discuss anything outside their own assumptions about the ferry service (mostly ‘Ferryman’ and Gus McKay) . When you ‘came back’ you called my arguments ‘increasingly tiresome and irrelevant’ and of course I object to that. I brought up the subject of pontoons and get harangued as if I’m the antichrist. That, to me, is not just ignorance, it’s real oafishness and you in particular are capable of better than that. People’s experience seems to be based on the performance of the ‘streakers’, but while these had decent passenger accommodation they had lousy boarding arrangements and the shore facilities – particularly the transfer to trains at Gourock – were poor.
I don’t know why your point that ‘passenger-only ferries don’t make money, vehicle carrying vessels do’ should prevent me arguing for better passenger facilities – whatever the economics, not everyone travels by car or bus and I’m clear in my mind that if Dunoon is to prosper there must be a decent passenger link. As I see it the vehicle link spans are fine for vehicles but – particularly at Gourock – are directly in conflict with the provision of passenger facilities. You can see what driving down the cost of passenger services is doing to the Gourock – Kilcreggan service, and on the Gourock – Dunoon route I don’t accept that the best value for money involves provision of vehicle ferries unless the existing facilities – as well as the boats – are recast to provide a really decent level of service. I suspect that this won’t happen until the government comes round to the idea of a transport authority to take over management of the Clyde ferries with the aim of improving integration – and showing real faith in the economic future of the area by fostering investment in every aspect of the services to bring them up to scratch. Both Cowal and the Rosneath peninsula demonstrate the need for this, and I don’t see either the Calmac group or SPT (as it stands) being up to the job.
- Innes: Agreed that there need to be adequate and properly qualified staff (and definitely not just the sort of phone ‘help points’ that you find at unstaffed railway stations), but to object to pontoons on the grounds that they’ll cost jobs compared with gangways is Luddite thinking – a ferry service shouldn’t be seen as a job creation programme. The sort of gangways that have to be laboriously manhandled into position on some Calmac services may be fine for jobs, but are labour intensive and a real anachronism in this day & age.
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