The NRMA doesn’t know when the service would become a reality, how it would work, or the time it would take to travel to Sydney – yet.
But, the motoring organisation has flagged Illawarra commuters could soon be able to catch a ferry to the NSW capital.
The idea of an ocean link between Wollongong and Sydney has been floated after the NRMA acquired the Manly Fast Ferry for an undisclosed sum last week.
While it’s still early days, the group indicated it was eager to expand the ferry company’s routes from Sydney to as far afield as the Central Coast and Wollongong.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury told the Mercury on Friday that Wollongong’s location made it an attractive ferry-route option, as did the potential to “open up the region to more tourism opportunities” and provide a faster, more efficient connection to Sydney.
Mr Khoury said the travel time between the two locations via ferry was “not even close” to being determined.
“It would obviously need a different fleet of vehicle, because you’d be going into the open ocean,” he said.
“It’s not at that stage yet, we only bought it yesterday [Thursday], but the intention is to use waterways to lift the load that is currently ... on roads and public transport routes.”
Manly Fast Ferry secured the sole rights several years ago to operate fast-ferry services between Circular Quay and Manly, a trip 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.
Mr Khoury said most Australians lived on the coast or along waterways and the NRMA saw the acquisition of the ferry operator as “a growth opportunity to open up other parts of not just Sydney, but the state and beyond”.
“While there aren’t concrete plans in place yet, that is certainly part of our long term view,” he said, adding the waterways were effectively “blue highways”.
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.
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.
– with SMH