THE proposed Portarlington to Port Melbourne ferry service has been snubbed by Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
Last week Mr Guy announced a $300,000 study into a commuter ferry service on the bay.
A spokesperson for the Minister yesterday confirmed the Portarlington proposal had been specifically excluded from that study. "Our examination of proposed ferry routes includes only services from the western suburbs of Melbourne into the Docklands," she said. "They do not include an interconnecting or stand-alone service to or from Portarlington."
She said under the Minister’s proposal there would be four stop-off and pick-up points between Werribee and the city. Those points would be Werribee South, Point Cook, Altona and Williamstown. "The idea is to ease congestion during peak hour on the West Gate Bridge," she said. "Travelling times from the wet could be cut considerably."
Bellarine Ferry Group president John Rae called on Minister Guy to reassess his priorities.
"Any research on a Port Phillip ferry service needs to include the Portarlington to Port Melbourne proposal," he said. "Studies by the previous Labor government have shown it is both a viable and valuable service."
Mr Rae said the travel time between the Bellarine and Melbourne would be about 45 minutes. Mr Rae and his group had campaigned and lobbied for five years for the ferry service. Its establishment depends on a $53m upgrade of the Portarlington Pier in what is called the Safe Harbour Project.
This involves the creation of a facility where ferries can berth safely in all weather. The project would also provide additional berths of the town’s growing fleet of mussel boats.
A delegation from the ferry group met with Ports Minister Denis Napthine in Geelong two months ago. Mr Napthine said he was impressed by their presentation and promised to undertake a cost benefit analysis of the Safe Harbour proposal. That analysis is due to be completed at the end of this month.