Residents of Glebe are fighting to save a ferry service that jets between Blackwattle Bay and Barangaroo in 13 minutes. The Glebe Blackwattle Bay ferry began a trial run earlier this year – but the NSW Government says it will only continue running if it’s used by 150 passengers a day. The local community hopes to promote the ferry’s existence to ensure it is able to continue running.

“The ferry is a great service for both Glebe and Annandale residents, as well as people who want to visit Glebe for the day to explore the history, go to the fish markets or visit restaurants or the tram sheds,” says Karin Kolbe, a member of the Glebe Society. “It used to be that all ferries went to and from Circular Quay. This is now changing, with more and more ferries stopping at Barangaroo.”

There is a street named Ferry Road in Glebe, suggesting there was once a ferry servicing the suburb, which also has light rail and bus services. In late 2019, an on-demand ferry service began running between the fish markets, Blackwattle Bay, Pirrama Park and Barangaroo. That service was scuppered in 2020 when the pandemic hit, but restarted earlier this year, running every 30 minutes between Blackwattle Bay and Barangaroo.

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The Coalition of Glebe Groups says the government won’t reveal how many people currently use the ferry each day. Locals are also concerned that the government hasn’t included the service on the Opal network, so passengers need a credit or debit card to use the ferry. They also say there is minimal signage at Blackwattle Bay and signage has only recently been installed at Barangaroo. And there are concerns the service hasn’t been widely publicised.

Jamie Parker, the state member of parliament for Balmain (which includes Glebe), was instrumental in pushing for a ferry to service the area. Now, with its future in question, he’s advocating for the route to be extended to Annandale to help boost passenger numbers and give Annandale residents more public transport options.

Kolbe says while campaigners know many people are still working from home a few days a week, the ferry is a great way to commute to work.

“It will be a while before the CBD is back to pre-Covid worker numbers,” Kolbe tells Broadsheet. “Using ferries – even if just once per week, or occasionally for a day excursion, is a fun way to get a new perspective on the world.”

Find the Glebe Blackwattle Bay ferry timetable here. And students at UTS in collaboration with the Coalition of Glebe group are encouraging passengers to fill out a survey on current and potential demand to help develop strategies to keep the service running.