Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, and the other members of the Combined Authority will be asked to formalise their commitment to a new Mersey Ferry official at next week’s meeting (Friday 6 September)
Officers are seeking approval for a multi-million pound share* of the £172.5m Transforming Cities Fund that would, by January 2022, see at least one new vessel, new bridges and an updated landing stage at the Seacombe terminal, subject to a satisfactory conclusion of the procurement process for the vessels later this autumn.
£1.9m has already been secured from the European Regional Development Fund to fund low carbon engines
Both the ferries and associated infrastructure are key elements of the Mersey Ferries long term strategy which was approved by the Combined Authority in January 2016.
The strategy highlights ways to secure the iconic Mersey Ferries’ long term future, recognising the increasing challenge in maintaining 60 year old vessels and the significant public subsidy required to keep them operating.
The report highlights how investment in the Mersey Ferries and their estate would:-
- Improve reliability, to make them a more attractive and ‘green’ option for commuters and cross-river travel customers who currently make up less than a third (30 per cent) of ferry goers. It would also support visitors getting to and from the new Eureka Mersey! attraction due to open in place of Spaceport in early 2022.
- Significantly improve the tourism offer with a broader range of more attractive, reliable leisure cruises.
- See journeys increase by an additional 120,000 in the first year of a new ferry being in operation, with further increases thereafter.
- Improve operating performance by £630k a year, reducing the public subsidy for Mersey Ferries operations. This would be through a combination of patronage growth and cleaner, more efficient and easily maintainable vessels.
Said Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram:
“Our Mersey Ferries are iconic, with a special place in our history and musical heritage but, at 60 years old, and on one of the fastest flowing tidal rivers in the world, they are operating beyond their expected lifespan. Add to this the need to renew 140 year old infrastructure, and the time is ripe for investment.
“The Combined Authority recognises the importance of securing the future of the Mersey Ferries for generations to come and next week’s funding decision will be the realisation of that commitment.”