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Hoverlink - Toronto to Niagara Hovercraft service starting 2023

Jonny5

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So, to sum up, no level of government was willing to offer a public teat, the proponents had a bad business plan that they executed poorly, and the thing was a money loser, but other than that it was a good idea?
People did use it, mostly to go from Rochester to here, but there was some reliable Canada to US flow of travellers, especially families visiting Upstate New York colleges.
The most popular feature was the very predictable travel time and time spent at customs, which are of course not at all predictable at the bridge border crossings in Niagara and travelling on the QEW.
It was essentially a "fake it till you make it" business. No way they would be profitable at startup, but if they could get enough new capital to get through the first year and kept the problems to a minimum, they could keep going with some investor infusions, but there were too many problems that first year, and not enough investor capital.
 

Admiral Beez

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So, to sum up, no level of government was willing to offer a public teat, the proponents had a bad business plan that they executed poorly, and the thing was a money loser, but other than that it was a good idea?
Yes. Turn it around, and as I said, it's a good idea. Start off with a good business plan, and then get government to assist with the set up and provide the customs/duty services at both ends. This is exactly what we do for the airlines. A well run ferry service that's quick and easy to board and exit without delays would have been popular.
 

crs1026

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As a non-automobile-carrying conveyance, I question the ticket price and value for money. Some comparators listed below.
I can see the value of a cross-lake ferry similar to the short-lived Rochester service, that saves through drivers and commercial trucking an hour or two on the QEW/I-90, but selling this service to pedestrians seems iffy. A family of four would find this quite expensive as a day trip.
Will they carry bicycles?

- Paul

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DSC

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In my opinion a faster way to get to Niagara would certainly be useful, whether it will be profitable is something else altogether!

The real problem will be 'the ends'. Getting to Ontario Place is not great at the best of time and I doubt many will want to stay @ Port Weller. The 'shuttle' from there to Niagara will need to go to the 'tourist Niagara" not (only) the old Niagara as the public transit in NF is not good and if a hovercraft holds 180 people, the bus link(s) will need to be able to do the same and be able to carry a whole hovercraft-full at the same time. Taking an hour on the water to get to Port Weller is fine but sitting there waiting for 2 hours for the (single) bus to return from NF so it can take you to Niagara GO will not cut it.
 
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Towered

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In my opinion a faster way to get to Niagara would certainly be useful, whether it will be profitable is something else altogether!

The real problem will be 'the ends'. Getting to Ontario Place is not great at the best of time and I doubt many will want to stay @ Port Weller. The 'shuttle' from there to Niagara will need to go to the 'tourist Niagara" not (only) the old Niagara as the public transit in NF is not good and if a hovercraft holds 180 people, the bus link(s) will need to be able to do the same and be able to carry a whole hovercraft-full at the same time. Taking an hour on the water to get to Port Weller is fine but sitting there waiting for 2 hours for the (single) bus to return from NF so it can take you to Niagara GO will not cut it.
Indeed, last mile planning and coordination is critical for this kind of service. It needs to be seamless.
 

SubHuman

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In my opinion a faster way to get to Niagara would certainly be useful, whether it will be profitable is something else altogether!..
I suppose if the casino/OLG could be convinced to get involved, and that this would be an improvement over what presently exists with their bus operators, it might have a chance.
BTW, the new and now renamed "OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino" is supposedly (again, after two previously scheduled openings were canceled, and sitting empty and unused for two and a half years) set to open in October.
 
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lenaitch

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I suppose if the casino/OLG could be convinced to get involved, and that this would be an improvement over what presently exists with their bus operators, it might have a chance.
BTW, the new and now renamed "OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino" is supposedly (again, after two previously scheduled openings were canceled, and sitting empty and unused for two and a half years) set to open in October.
They might be encouraged to make it part of a package with their own shuttles, possibly at both ends, but regulated gaming is still recovering from Covid. Their 2021 income is about half of what it was pre-pandemic and it is being spread over more sites. The entertainment venue aside, If I wanted to gamble from the GTA, it's probably a lot easier to get to Ajax, Woodbine or Scugog. Most day-trip gamblers don't care about the surrounding amenities.
 

dowlingm

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given the geography, a ferry is always going to seem an attractive idea, the question being how to execute it. The Rochester Ferry suffered by the proponent city being too far east (the less you cut the corner, the more advantage roads regain) and customs on both sides delaying approval to carry trucks

Landing at Ontario Place seems attractive if you are bringing people to the Ex or whatever but otherwise onward connections are not great. Active water environment too given all the yachts tied up along the stretch toward the airport ferry. Pass the airport and now you have condo owners plus other sensitive locations like Ireland Park and the Music Garden.

The Eastern Channel seems a more obvious approach, but again where do you land where there is decent onward connectivity. Even with the Portlands redevelopment I think it will take a while for Torontonians (especially media writers) to adjust their “mental centre of gravity” to see the old ferry Terminal area as ”part of downtown”. Parliament Slip would seem the closest viable option assuming it could be compatible with Waterfront Toronto and developer visions for its redevelopment, and the 170m or more walk from the external pier to Queens Quay and onward transportation isn’t offputting on Toronto‘s many harsh weather days https://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/our-projects/parliament-slip

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SubHuman

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Bureaucromancer

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People did use it, mostly to go from Rochester to here, but there was some reliable Canada to US flow of travellers, especially families visiting Upstate New York colleges.
The most popular feature was the very predictable travel time and time spent at customs, which are of course not at all predictable at the bridge border crossings in Niagara and travelling on the QEW.
It was essentially a "fake it till you make it" business. No way they would be profitable at startup, but if they could get enough new capital to get through the first year and kept the problems to a minimum, they could keep going with some investor infusions, but there were too many problems that first year, and not enough investor capital.
I rather strongly suspect that’s all true, but that a viable service also needed a second vessel to get schedules that actually capture the truck traffic they would need for viability.
 

lenaitch

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I tend to agree with the casino industry on this one. The people who want to pull slots, or play games where you actually touch the cards, will continue, and the people who are inclined to live on a computer will be more likely to take up the online providers. I don't see the 'blue rinse crowd' migrating to online slots. Where the government will miss out are the off-shore online venues. They can't hope to regulate them. Sure, a licenced and regulated provider will have the cache of honesty or legitimacy, but some won't care. What the government is also missing is that this is disposable income. Addicted gamblers aside, there is only so much disposable money to go around. What used to be only available in a commercial casino, table games, higher limits, etc. are now available in just about every licenced venue in Ontario; even bingo halls now have slots. Thar dollar moves up and down with the economy. but there are a lot more places chasing it.
 

Admiral Beez

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In my opinion a faster way to get to Niagara would certainly be useful, whether it will be profitable is something else altogether!

The real problem will be 'the ends'. Getting to Ontario Place is not great at the best of time and I doubt many will want to stay @ Port Weller. The 'shuttle' from there to Niagara will need to go to the 'tourist Niagara" not (only) the old Niagara as the public transit in NF is not good and if a hovercraft holds 180 people, the bus link(s) will need to be able to do the same and be able to carry a whole hovercraft-full at the same time. Taking an hour on the water to get to Port Weller is fine but sitting there waiting for 2 hours for the (single) bus to return from NF so it can take you to Niagara GO will not cut it.
It would need to be a train or ship that can take your car at the other end.
 

dowlingm

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Seems relevant.
The Channel hovercraft lingered until 1991 but much the same thing killed or would have killed it as other surface routes - triple whammy of airline deregulation, no duty free sales, Channel Tunnel rail link.

Interestingly there is a manufacturer still plugging away and in additional to military and smaller passenger vessels is operating two of these - rated top speed 83 km/h and capacity 80 passengers, runs on diesel rather than aviation fuel.

I had forgotten that hovercraft usually docked on dry land, which might recast landing zones a bit, but the thing which occurred to me which would make some people absolutely lose their minds, is that if slips which could be constructed and a 120m grassway were cut across Ward’s aligned with the channel between Snake and Algonquin islands, a hovercraft could both have an intermediate stop but also take one hell of a shortcut… okay someone take the crayons away, I’m losing control…
 

crs1026

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^ A hovercraft pad and apron may not take up much space , but parking around Ontario Place can be iffy during events… and a waiting area with terminal space and bus bays will not be cheap or easily situated. Using Billy Bishop might be workable.
I wonder though about all the recreational water uses that are impacted. Kayakers, canoes, and sailboats will assert right of way.
My mind is running to a big intersection on Lakeshore, and motorists having to stop while a hovercraft slides across to Exhibition station…. Yeah, I’m losing it too.
- Paul
 

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