Give iconic Pink Ferry route a reprieve
Please be patient as I share my impressions and concerns as a visitor to your island.
I just received my estimate for my family's upcoming and returning stay in Salt Kettle. It was nice news.
We had waited to visit Bermuda for two years, the Covid years, but began our visits with a beautiful first visit for Christmas 2021, and again in March this year.
We told our friends about our wonderful visits and how beautiful Bermuda is, especially the friendliness of the people and the natural beauty of the landscape and the harbours, especially the use of the ferry for normal transportation from Salt Kettle to Hamilton and back.
I read The Royal Gazette as well as Bernews each morning.
I was just about to respond to our lodging estimate yesterday morning, April 20. We invited our daughter and her husband to stay near by, across the road from us in Salt Kettle, each for ten nights.
I read the papers and was surprised and greatly saddened. I read the details and watched the minister’s video about the change of schedule for the Pink Ferry Route. This includes the original plan to suspend the service entirely.
I will now need to suspend my reservations in Salt Kettle, while considering this news. We used the ferry multiple times daily, day and evening, along with many other people from various stops. Yes, we have used the bus and taxi also if absolutely necessary, as it is quite limiting.
The Pink Ferry is charming and uniquely Bermudian. Just seeing it go by in the inner harbour reflects Bermuda.
The rationale of the Minister of Transport, Lawrence Scott, is clear and seems well considered if you boil down the entire Pink Route to dollars and cents. It does take dollars and cents to run it. The basis was “ridership” numbers. I'm hoping his ridership numbers accurately include “passes” and children of pre-ticket age..
As services are degraded, it is evident ridership will fall off. This is a self-fulfilling outcome; as services decrease, awareness and ridership will. What effect this will have on the residents, guesthouses, marketing and tourism in that area is far less known. It likely won't be “plus”. Eventually it could justify the end of the Pink Ferry Route
Many destinations have beaches, trails, nice shops, nice homes and especially very nice and friendly people. Welcoming people. The bus drivers, taxi drivers, shopkeepers and staff, and the people at the Perot post office who did such an outstanding job.
Few places have Harbor ferries that provide simple sights and sounds, and a natural “on-water” experience to do routine travel, bringing people across your wonderful Harbor.
Early morning ferry travel to Hamilton, late-evening trips back, even with the somewhat limited current schedule, allows people on that side of the Harbor to feel part of the Harbor and participate in the Bermuda experience. Being on the ferry is seeing and feeling the water and the waves and wind as it came from the ocean. The Harbor ferries — the Pink Route in particular — IS an actual postcard of Hamilton Harbor ... of Bermuda.
The families, guesthouses and visitors already scheduled to visit Bermuda will be quite disappointed to find the advertised Ferry Stops and Schedules limited and impractical. Rendered a thing of the past and something that cannot be functionally used or enjoyed.
This is a very unfortunate development.
I would like to say that the dates given showing poor Pink Route ridership are basically the Covid-19 years. It also reflects a schedule that had been reduced, as I understand. It will certainly change, at least in potential, people who would choose to visit in the area across from Hamilton
I would humbly propose the following:
1. The Pink Route schedule remains as is it now in order to conduct a formal “study” going forward. The next three years would be this study.
2. The study would be looking and analysing “forward”, in line with Bermuda's increased focus on increasing visitors and tourism.
3. This time would allow and encourage families, guesthouses, and rentals, as well as visitors, to be more aware and encouraging of the Pink Ferry route, as well as the restart and use of the other ferry routes making Bermuda special. This is even a request of the Mr Scott in his presentation — to increase ridership.
4. As the Covid years fade, hopefully, and island visitation regains strength, the three years would represent an honest effort to assess the ferry system usage.
5. Then the Pink Ferry could be more accurately assessed as to its financial expense/income, making sure the "passes" are counted for the frequent riders, as well as children of pre-ticket age also.
6. However, the true "value" to Bermuda of the ferries and the Pink Ferry Inner Harbor route in particular, is incalculable to the essence of the Bermuda experience in Hamilton Harbor.
The ferries are a special and unique part of Bermuda.
Bermuda is a special place.
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