Yesterday was the 2nd "Family Funday Sunday" - a New South Wales Government Initiative for families to "enjoy a fun day out with unlimited travel on Sydney's buses, trains and ferries every Sunday."
We have a few overseas visitors with us yesterday and we went to a few popular places - Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, ...etc. From the huge crowd of people wherever we go, seems to prove that this excellent idea was widely welcomed by lots of people -- hope it helps to generate more revenue for all the retailers as well!
But from what we experienced at the Circular Quay with the ferries, looks like there's still a few areas which can be further improved.
We got on the ferries at the Aquarium and off at the Circular Quay. Hundreds of people gathered around the 5 ticketing machines to get a ticket as otherwise can't exit through the gate.
First there was no sign about which ticket should we purchase for "Family Funday Sunday". After squeezed ourselves through the huge crowd, we then learned from one of the extremely busy staff that we should pick the yellow "pensioner" option. Ok, one problem solved.
Next, we found that we can only purchase one single ticket at a time. There were 7 of us, after inserted a $20 comes a single ticket and big pile of $2 coins as change. Then we have to repeat the process again and again and finally got all the tickets. There was another group with 10+ people around another machine, and everyone is complaining and cursing,.....etc. Certainly doesn't look like a "Funday" for sure.
When we later decided to leave Circular Quay to return to Darling Harbour by ferry on Wharf 5 around 6pm, there were hundreds of people already on the platform for a ferry to Parramatte in front of us. It wasn't a nice scene for sure, specially when the ferry arrived. People start pushing, yelling and shouting, trying to board the ferry, which was already late.
To be honest, I have never seen anything like that before in Sydney. After a while, the poor Sydney Ferry staffs were trying to control the crowd, finally managed to stop the rest of the crow from pushing through the gate as the ferry was obviously full.
There's this Indian lady screaming and yelling when the staff stopped her. Looks like some of her group was already on the ferry and she wants to get them off the ferry so they can stay together. After some more calm talking, she was allowed to enter the ferry to get her friends off the ferry. A few other lucky ones then moved in, and the ferry finally left...
We then heard the announcement: "...There's no more ferry to Paramatta for the day..." Well, that sort of explains why everyone was so desperate in trying to get on to the ferry...
But it's not the end of the world, they can still catch the train using the same ticket without paying any extra. Why risk everyone's life & safety like that? The Ferry staffs were just trying to do their job!
It was quite embarrassing and our overseas visitors certainly weren't very impressed about this kind of third world country style chaos for our public transport system...
Haven't got a chance to travel with the buses and trains yesterday, certainly hope none of the others were in such chaos like the ferries...
I can think of a few things the Sydney Ferry could have done to improve the situation:
1) improve the ticket selling system
2) control the number of people allowed to enter the platform
3) use the PA to broadcast helpful information
4) plan for the extra load and probably arrange for extra ferries on standby in case of emergencies like this