Hovercraft transit firm makes bid to revive Toronto-Rochester ferry
April 9, 2008
A Toronto company that for the last five years has been trying to build a Hovercraft service on Lake Ontario is now trying to revive the Toronto-Rochester ferry.
Hover Transit Services, which proposes to use a Hovercraft that once plied the cross-channel route between England and France, was the only bidder for the right to operate the cross-lake service in a public bidding process that closed at the end of March.
The attempt to revive the ferry service is being spearheaded by the City of Rochester, N.Y., and the Toronto Port Authority, which last month asked companies interested in reviving the service to express an interest in doing so.
Alan Knauf, the company's Rochester lawyer, said last night that the city and the port authority will take 30 to 45 days to evaluate Hover's proposal, which says it could get the service going for $10-million. He expects they will have a number of questions for the company, as the proposal at this stage is not very detailed.
"I assume they would be interested. It would be a great contribution to both communities," Mr. Knauf said.
According to the submission from Hover Transit, which two years ago said it was trying to set up a Hovercraft service between Toronto and Niagara, the company would refurbish and use the Princess Anne, a Hovercraft which has been dry-docked in a marine museum since 2000 after 33 years of cross-channel service.
The submission suggests that the vessel, which holds 400 passengers and 55 cars, could make the 88-nautical-mile trip across the lake in 75 minutes, and offer passenger service for about $30 a person, starting in March 2009
It says a second British Hovercraft, the Princess Margaret, could also be purchased, refurbished and put into service on Lake Ontario.
The submission added that the company is exploring the possibility of an early-morning commuter shuttle from either Hamilton or Oshawa to Toronto before leaving for Rochester; then, in the afternoon, it would again cross the lake to Toronto, then return to Hamilton or Oshawa
If the company, which says it has an unnamed partner that already operates a private non-subsidized ferry service between Canada and the United States, goes ahead with the plan, it would be the third attempt in this decade to operate a service.
In 2004, a privately owned venture using a catamaran made in Australia was shut down after less than three months, and the vessel was then sold for $32-million (U.S.) to the City of Rochester, which closed the service in early 2006 after losing $10-million in 10 months.
See HTS's full proposal here.....