Tag Archives: Fast Ferry

The Problem with the Fast Ferry Wasn’t the Fast Ferry

The Rochester Fast Ferry, via bobcatnorth on Flickr

Someone wants to try a ferry service in Rochester again. No shit. Really:

Sibley descendant floats idea to restart ferry service | Democrat and Chronicle | democratandchronicle.com.

I love Rochester and I love Monroe County. But the problem with the Fast Ferry was never the Fast Ferry: it was us. It is our legacy and our destiny to be fiscally and socially conservative with a small “c.” I don’t mean that we’re all bible-thumping, anti-tax zealots; just folks who don’t figure anything all that grand is ever going to happen here and anyway… how much will it cost? Will there be loud people having fun past nine o’clock?

Yes, there were huge structural, organizational and logistical problems with the Fast Ferry system. But those problems could have been addressed and improved upon by a community that wanted the Fast Ferry. Instead, every small scandal threatened to shut the service down.. until it ultimately collapsed in the epic failure it was doomed to be from the outset.

Other projects follow a similar suit. The Renn Square project literally shrank out of existence, from a four-theater project with a bus terminal, MCC campus and shops to a three-theater project with a bus terminal and campus to a two-theater project with a bus terminal to a bus terminal to….. blink. Frontier Field, nice though it undeniably is, started out as a larger stadium than its predecessor and ended up as a teacup-sized venue 5000 seats smaller than Silver.

There were good reasons to question every one of these projects. There were perfectly logical explanations for why they shrank. But where other communities would have demanded improvements to the plan, our community cried out for each plan to disappear. So developers made them smaller.

Really, the reason they all shrank is because we lack the capacity to dream big for ourselves. I’m sorry. I love you guys. But you know its true.

Please, Let’s Just Let This Go, Already. . .

The Cities of Rochester and Toronto are once again playing with fire by soliciting private ferry operators to use the Fast Ferry terminals to begin another ferry service.  Oh, crap.

You’d think that Toronto would be petitioning the Canadian government to build a wall between it and Rochester after the way things worked out, but I guess the fact that both Rochester and Toronto are stuck with otherwise-useless terminals on their shores has made the municipal governments buddies once more.  If I’m not mistaken, Rochester is actually paying for leasing the Toronto terminal anyway, but lakeshore property in Toronto is some high-value stuff, so I’m sure the Toronto government has an incentive to keep it occupied.

But come on, people: if you think that any ferry service between these two cities can be maintained entirely by the private sector, you’re nuts.  Show me another form of mass transit in either city that’s entirely privately funded without tax write-offs, grants and loans.  And this one is going to be seasonal at best, which means a third of the profit other mass transit accrues over a year.

Please, people.  I supported the Fast Ferry once.  I wrote articles arguing for it’s saliency.  I’ve eaten a lot of crow since then.  I don’t want to look at a ferry in Rochester.  Let’s just let this go away.