Department of State GrowthTransport

Bruny Island ferry service contract

The Bruny Island ferry service is a key link for Bruny Island residents as well as commuters and holiday makers, providing access for passengers, vehicles and freight between the island and Tasmanian mainland.

From Sunday, 23 September 2018 the Bruny Island ferry service will be operated by SeaLink Travel Group (SeaLink) under a new 10 year contract.

Over the last few years there has been growing demand for the ferry service. In the recent recontracting of the service, the Tasmanian Government’s focus was to provide a service that will best meet the future demands of all ferry users. To ensure the service best meets the current and future needs of both the Bruny Island community and the island’s growing visitor economy aspects of the service, including crossing capacity and fares, particularly for Bruny Island residents and land owners, are assured in the service contract.

Key priorities for the outcome-based service contract include:

  • there will be no reduction in crossing capacity this year, or in future years
  • fares for Bruny Island residents and property owners will remain low
  • there will be a transition period to the new booking system
  • ongoing community consultation will be maintained through a Ferry Reference Group.

A detailed summary of the contract is available below.

SeaLink is working together with the community to ensure locals benefit from an improved ferry service that delivers greater capacity and certainty into the future.

As part of this engagement a Bruny Island Ferry Reference Group has been established to work through a variety of practical questions about the service. The Reference Group includes representation from the community, Kingborough Council and the Department of State Growth, and is meeting regularly during the transition phase. The Department of State Growth will continue to work closely with SeaLink and the community through the Bruny Island Ferry Reference Group to ensure a smooth transition to the new service.

Information about the SeaLink service, and the option to register for updates about the new service, is available from the SeaLink Bruny Island website www.sealinkbrunyisland.com.au

Detailed information is available below on the following topics.

New ferry service and vessels

Crossing capacity

Ticketing, fares and booking system

Bruny Island residents and business operators

Answers to frequently asked questions and a summary of the service contract are available in the following information sheets.

Bruny Island ferry service - general FAQ

Bruny Island ferry service – crossing capacity FAQ

Bruny Island ferry service - contract summary

New ferry service and vessels

Why SeaLink?

SeaLink is a highly experienced and proven operator of vehicle and passenger ferries across Australia. It has an existing fleet of 78 vessels and carries more than eight million passengers each year. SeaLink has experience operating vehicle and passenger ferries around Australia, including to a number of island communities.

SeaLink’s proposal was considered to best meet the current and future needs for ferry users and the Tasmanian taxpayer as required by the Tasmanian Government. The SeaLink service will immediately provide greater certainty for passengers by dedicating two vessels to the service every day of the year, and introducing a booking system. Over time, the introduction of new, purpose-built vessels will provide increased crossing capacity and a higher frequency timetable.

The company will work with the Bruny Island community and has committed to annual contributions to Kingborough Council for infrastructure and the community for environmental projects and sponsorship. It will also use its national and international networks to market the service and Bruny Island as a tourist destination.

What changes and improvements will be made to the current service?

Schedule: SeaLink will operate the Bruny Island ferry service from Sunday, 23 September 2018. Initially the current service schedule will continue, however there will be two vessels dedicated to the service from day one of operations and for the duration of the contract. The MV Mirambeena will continue to service the Bruny Island service, and the SeaLink-owned MV Moongalba will be provided as a dedicated second vessel. This means a back-up vessel can be deployed to meet demand as required.

Bookings: A booking system will be introduced to manage queuing and demand, and provide certainty for both residents and visitors using the ferry. The booking system will be available from mid-August and will bring the service into line with modern practices employed in similar ferry services around the world.

Pricing: A variable pricing model will be brought in for all visitors which will offer cheaper fares in off peak times and more expensive fares at peak times. This will be the first change to visitor fares since 2015, and it is anticipated this will smooth demand and people will have surety of the times they are travelling. At the same time, residents will also be offered cheaper fares to pre-book the ferry.

Will there be new ferries?

Within the first three years of the contract, SeaLink will build and pay for two new vessels with an estimated value of over $10 million to replace the Government-owned MV Mirambeena, which will be withdrawn from service in 2021.

The detailed design of the new vessels is still to be confirmed, but they will have a minimum carrying capacity of 36 vehicles and 150 passengers. They will be single deck and have the capacity to load and unload quickly. They will also have a passenger lounge for foot passengers and people who do not wish to remain in their vehicle during the crossing.

The first of two new vessels is due to come into service on October 2019. At that time, and before commissioning the build of the second new ferry, SeaLink will review the requirements and adjust the specification of the second new vessel as required.  It is expected the MV Moongalba will remain onsite to operate as a third vessel.

How will smaller ferries deliver the same or greater crossing capacity?

While the exact design and capacity of new ferries is yet to be confirmed, modern, single-deck ferries will have faster loading and unloading times and will be able to cross the D’Entrecasteaux Channel more quickly. This means at peak times more frequent crossings will possible, so an increased number of vehicles and passengers will be able to travel, even though the vessels themselves are smaller.

When will the new ferries arrive?

The first of the new vessels will be delivered in the second half of 2019, with the second due in the first half of 2021. Once in service, the two new vessels will provide a high frequency timetable with the capability to depart each terminal every 20 minutes when required.

Crossing capacity

Is there a guarantee the new service will meet demand?

The Transport Commission is confident the new Bruny Island ferry service will meet the needs of the Bruny Island community and provide an improved offering to the community, visitors and tourist operators.

It is a contractual requirement that the new Bruny Island ferry service will offer a level of reliability, capacity relative to demand, and customer service that is the same or better than the current service. It also requires that any customer arriving prior to the scheduled last sailing must be transported.

The contract is outcomes-based and defines a minimum level of service that must be provided, however it also provides for greater flexibility in responding to demand and does not limit the number of daily sailings or boats to be used, nor their capacity.

The Transport Commission will also work with SeaLink, particularly in the first year of operation, to ensure the adequate capacity is available and the service responds to demand. The contract also includes key performance indicators and provides for regular information provision and auditing against those indicators.

Will the new service offer the same number of crossing spaces for vehicles?

From 23 September 2018 the MV Mirambeena will continue to service the Bruny Island service. The MV Moongalba will be provided as a dedicated second vessel that can be deployed to meet demand at any time and on any day of the year. This includes periods such as winter school holidays when a second vessel has not previously been available.

Over the busier summer period in 2018-19 the combined capacity of the Mirambeena and Moongalba will provide at least the same level of service as the existing service vessels including at peak times. An in line with the existing service, any customer arriving prior to the scheduled last sailing will be transported.

SeaLink will be monitoring travel patterns and car movements to confirm and inform its operational model. The company also has a large fleet of over 70 vessels from which it is able to bring additional support to the Bruny Service if required.

How can smaller vessels deliver the same or greater crossing capacity?

The final design of the new vessels is still to be confirmed, but they will have a minimum carrying capacity of 36 vehicles and 150 passengers.

While the exact design exact capacity of new ferries is yet to be confirmed, modern, single-deck ferries will have faster loading and unloading times and will be able to cross the D’Entrecasteaux Channel more quickly. This means at peak times more frequent crossings will possible, so an increased number of vehicles and passengers will be able to travel, even though the vessels themselves are smaller.

The first of the new vessels comes into service on October 2019. At that time, and before commissioning the build of the second new ferry, SeaLink will review the requirements and adjust the specification of the second new vessel as required. It is expected the MV Moongalba will remain onsite to operate as a third vessel.

How will increases in demand be met over time?

The contract requires that the reasonable needs of all classes of customers must be met. This means additional capacity can be made available as demand grows over time. It also requires that any customer arriving prior to the scheduled last sailing must be transported.

How are the crossing capacity needs of Bruny Island tourism operators being considered?

The Department of State Growth and the Transport Commission will work directly with tourism operators and SeaLink to fully understand and address any concerns in the lead up to the commencement of the new service, and to ensure the new Bruny Island service delivers on our commitments.

Ticketing, fares and booking system

What is the benefit of a booking system?

A ticketing system that provides for advance bookings is in the interests of all ferry users and will provide certainty about travelling on the ferry. SeaLink will work with the Bruny Island community and ferry users on how the ticketing system will work and the benefits it will bring to residents during community information sessions that will commence in early July 2018.

How will customers be able to purchase tickets for the ferry?

The booking system is expected to launch in late August and ferry tickets will be able to be purchased online, by phone or in person at the terminals or via ticketing agents. SeaLink also plans to launch a mobile phone app through which tickets will also be able to be purchased.

What about people who have unreliable access to the internet? How will they be able to book?

The online booking service will be just one option, SeaLink will have ticketing agents on the island and phone bookings will also be possible. A standby lane will always provide opportunity for people who were unable to pre-book.

Will visitors have to pay increased fares?

A new fare schedule for all ferry users will be released by SeaLink prior to the September handover. A new fare structure is a critical part of shifting demand and managing the peaks and lengthy queues that currently occur at various times throughout the year. This will be the first change to visitor fares since 2015.

The Tasmanian Government has retained responsibility for regulation of the fares for the duration of the contract term.

Bruny Island residents and business operators

Will there be changes to fares for Bruny Island residents?

There will be no change to Bruny Island resident fares when SeaLink takes over the service in September 2018. In the first year, the Government will fund discounted fares for residents who pre-book their travel – they will pay $10 per trip rather than $16 while Bruny Island resident concession customers will pay just $5 per trip rather than $9.

Bruny Island residents will pay the same ticket price irrespective of the time day, week or month they travel.

What if a Bruny resident or visitor needs to travel at short notice?

SeaLink has committed to always retaining some spare spaces on each trip for emergencies and special needs travel, even if a particular service is fully booked. SeaLink will ensure travel is guaranteed for priority travellers like emergency services, school buses and regular service providers.

What about suppliers and tourism operators?

Regular suppliers to the island will be able to pre-book their schedule while businesses who provide crucial services to the island will be provided with individual contract rates. SeaLink will work with businesses to establish accounts, forward booking schedules and contract rates.