NRMA indicates the Manly Fast Ferry route may expand to Wollongong

The NRMA has flagged expanding the ferry company's routes from Sydney to as far afield as Wollongong. Picture: Ben Rushton
The NRMA has flagged expanding the ferry company's routes from Sydney to as far afield as Wollongong. Picture: Ben Rushton

Illawarra commuters may soon be able to catch the ferry to Sydney with the NRMA indicating it was eager to expand the Manly Fast Ferry’s current route after purchasing the company recently.

The motoring group acquired the ferry for an undisclosed sum from its founders, underlining its plans to increase its exposure to tourism.

While it was early days, the motoring group indicated it was eager to expand the ferry company's routes from Sydney to as far afield as the Central Coast and Wollongong.

Manly Fast Ferry secured the sole rights several years ago to operate fast-ferry services between Circular Quay and Manly, a journey which takes on average about 18 minutes.

And with a fleet of 10 vessels, the company also operates regular ferry services to other locations such as Darling Harbour and Watsons Bay, as well as whale watching and sightseeing tours.

Manly Fast Ferries has the sole rights to operate fast ferries from Circular Quay to Manly. Photo: Ben Rushton

Manly Fast Ferries has the sole rights to operate fast ferries from Circular Quay to Manly. Photo: Ben Rushton

NRMA chief executive Rohan Lund said the "significant investment" in the ferry operator underlined its increasing focus on becoming one of the largest operators of transport and tourism services.

"We take it for granted because we live here but the harbour is the No.1 thing [tourists] want to experience," he said.

Manly Fast Ferry's founders, Richard and Will Ford, will retain an economic interest in the ferry operator, and stay on in their respective roles of chief executive and chief operating officer.

Mr Lund said inner parts of western Sydney via Parramatta River and the Central Coast presented opportunities for the operator to expand.

"As roads become more congested, it is a more obvious way to get around," he said. "We've got to unlock more boats and that means more capital and more routes."

Manly Fast Ferry carries more than 11,000 people a day between Manly and Sydney's central business district, up from about 1500 people a day when it started services in 2008.

The NRMA plans to give the group's members discounts to ride on the Manly Fast Ferry services but said it was too early to reveal more details.

The NSW government has also spent almost $52 million on buying six new catamaran ferries for its fleet, which are run by the city's main private operator, Harbour City Ferries.

MORE TO COME