Rochester to Toronto Ferry
Rochester like so many of the great lakes cities has seen it’s economy change. Rochester enjoys a slightly more upscale business climate than say Buffalo but it has seen it’s largest employers (Kodak and Xerox) downsize. Facing the prospects of continued decline Rochester listened to what many of the experts were saying which was to find ways to create a “super-region” and link Rochester to the economic powerhouse of Toronto which was just across Lake Ontario.
Tapping into Federal Transportation dollars Rochester and Toronto partnered to create a high speed ferry. The hope was to entice people to visit Rochester as well as Toronto which already enjoys world class destination status that Rochester wanted a piece of. In a way, Rochester hoped to ride on Toronto’s coat-tails and market Rochester in the same breath as Toronto.
Cool idea in concept but it fell apart in every other way. From ridership, costs, performance, schedule, etc., etc., etc. Anything that could go wrong did. Instead of being a bold success story it turned out to be a bold failure and an easy target for critics. In January of 2006 the Mayor of Rochester pulled the plug on the Ferry to “stop the bleeding.”
The Ferry didn’t work but I admire Rochester’s leadeship for getting in the game. The made a bet the company risk and lost the roll of the dice. But I’m sure they learned a lot along the way and they’ll be able to use that to get it right next time.
Official name: Spirit of Ontario 1.
Nickname: The Cat.
Operator: Bay Ferries, which operates similar ferries elsewhere along the eastern Canadian border.
The engines: Instead of operating with a propeller, the ferry uses a jet water propulsion system that sucks in water and shoots it out to move. The system can fill an Olympic-size pool in about 30 seconds, pumping 20,000 gallons per second at full thrust.
The ship features four diesel engines made by MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH. Austal Ships, the Australian shipbuilder, and MTU say the Spirit of Ontario was, at the time of its building, the “world’s most powerful diesel-powered high-speed catamaran.”
Two MTU 20-cylinder engines are in each hull of the ferry. Each engine has a maximum horsepower of about 11,000, with a total horsepower of about 44,000 at a rated speed of 1,150 rpm, according to the company. Each engine has the equivalent power of 90 PT Cruisers, MTU says.
Passengers: The ferry is able to carry 774 passengers and 238 cars (or up to 10 trucks and fewer cars).
Dimensions: 284 feet long, 78 feet wide and nearly as tall as a five-story building.
Top speed: 47.2 knots or 55 mph.
Travel time: The trip across Lake Ontario takes about two hours and 15 minutes.
Amenities: A restaurant, bars, business class, video games, children’s play area, wireless Internet, duty-free shop and two movie theaters.