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Fast-load ferry

Save time getting on and off.
  [vote for,

The annoying part of getting on and off the ferry is the line-up. Followed by the shuffling around as people figure out where to go and are directed around the ferry.

A two-fold solution: Vehicles: A platform that all the cars are loaded onto, in the appropriate order and direction for multiple destinations. The whole platform slides into the main deck of the ferry. When the ferry arrives one deck slides out with the inbound vehicles, the other slides in with the outbound ones. Ferry can leave while the vehicles unload from the first platform.

Passengers (walk-on): A mobile waiting room, like in some airports, but the whole thing plugs into the side of the ferry. No waiting like cattle while you are hearded up the ramp and onto the boat. Same scenario, two pods, one for inbound and one for outbound.

Initial investment would be steep, but the time savings should be immense.

rbl, Feb 27 2002


       Surely, though, you'd (as a passenger or vehicle) be waiting for just as long. It's just the ferry that doesn't have to wait as long. You'd be waiting at the platform loading area, rather than at the arse-end of the ferry. Or am I misinterpreting your idea?
calum, Feb 27 2002

       Close, but there is a time saving advantage here. Rather than waiting in-line, and then waiting to load, you get in line, and the entire line is loaded in one fell swoop.
rbl, Feb 27 2002

       Sorry. I still don't get it. [I *have* tried - I've even gone to the extent of drawing myself a wee diagram to help me understand] You still have to wait to get on the loading platform and then you have to be directed around the loading platform. So you're waiting for the same amount of time, but in a different location.   

       All the while I am typing, I actually feel wrong about this, but my wee diagram is telling me otherwise.
calum, Feb 28 2002

       Sounds entirely reasonable to me. [calum]: You buy a ticket and proceed to the waiting room. When the ferry is ready, instead of cars and passengers ambling on and getting set up, the entire waiting room itself is shoved into the ship. Bam. No fuss no muss. I don't imagine more than a couple of minutes would be saved, but it would be fun.
snarfyguy, Feb 28 2002

       calum: Ok, sometimes it is hard to do this in writing! Part of the hold up is the physical loading and unloading of the ferry. This way the cars are all jockeyed into position, and the people are all on board the loading pod before the ferry arrives. Zip, out go's the one group, zip, in go the next group. No 30 minutes while they first unload and then load the ferry, I don't know how fast they could load the platform onto the ship, but it has to be faster than the time to load each car individually in order for the idea to work.   

       Here we go: as the cars arrive at the terminal they ae put on the platform, as opposed to the current method of lining them all up and then rushing to load them on the ferry when it arrives. Much quicker turnaround for the ferry=faster trip.
rbl, Feb 28 2002

       I *think* that snarfyguy is interpreting this the same way as I. And I agree with you, rbl, that there will be a faster ferry turnaround. What I can't see is how this idea will remove the "annoying part of getting on and off the ferry ... the line-up". You're still going to have to do the line-up and the jockeying for position jiggery-pokery when you drive your car onto the loading platform.   

       But I don't want to bore people any further with the fumblings of my tired brain, so I'll just wrestle with this one in private.
calum, Feb 28 2002

       [calum] You'd be waiting for the ferry to arrive anyway. The time savings comes from not having to wait for:
1) the ferry to unload car-by-car, and
2) the ferry to reload car-by-car.

       The idea proposes pre-loading containers at one terminus with cars and people while the ferry is in transit to that terminus. When the ferry arrives, the preloaded containers can be slid into place faster than the individual contents (cars and people) could do so. When the ferry arrives at the next terminus, the container would be unloaded and another full container set in place.   

       The time saved is the difference between the embarkation and disembarkation times of the individual passengers/cars versus the loading and unloading times of the passenger containers and car containers.
phoenix, Feb 28 2002

       Thanks phoenix! Better put than I could have,
rbl, Feb 28 2002

       Or, just in case anyone still doesn't get it, under the new approach someone wanting to board the ferry would still have to undergo the same hassles as today, **BUT**, could have them all taken care of **BEFORE** the ferry arrived, **ASSUMING** that they were at the dock sufficiently long before departure.   

       The loading-platform approach would be a major improvement over the status quo if three conditions applied: (1) enough cars arrived sufficiently before the ferry that the whole platform was loaded before the ferry arrived; (2) reducing turnaround time would result in ferries making more frequent trips; (3) there is a sufficient queue that would be substantially reduced by more frequent ferry runs.   

       If such conditions did not apply, the loading-platform notion might not actually save passengers' time, both because it would require passengers to arrive earlier for a given departure time, and because passengers would have to wait for the platform to be removed from the ferry before they could drive off it (as compared with having passengers start to drive off as soon as the ramp is down).
supercat, Feb 28 2002

       Waiting for the ferry is life presenting you with another chance to go to the pub.
mcscotland, Feb 28 2002

       Cheers phoenix. I get it now. I curse my stupidity.
calum, Feb 28 2002

       The difficulties involved with moving a huge platform loaded with vehicles onto and off of a ferry seem considerable.   

       Wouldn't it be much easier to have the waiting area and the ferry platform itself be reverse-motion conveyor belt type devices? Then, you never have to stop driving.
waugsqueke, Feb 28 2002

       Thanks guys. A brief moment of clarity on my part.   

       [waugsqueke] I was thinking similarly. I'd keep the containers and have a conveyor system that loads the container(s) on the ferry while simultaneously removing the container(s) already there. I rather like the idea of a self-contained passenger container in that, if the ferry sank, the passenger container might become a life boat. Alternately, if the ferry ran aground, the passenger container could be removed intact (perhaps even air-lifted) for rescue.
phoenix, Feb 28 2002

       how about a ferry that's really really wide but only one carlength long, so all the cars are parked side by side. then when it gets to the dock, all the cars can leave at the same time. i'd just be excited to see the chaos that would ensue.
SquidInk, Jan 26 2003

       Where I'm from, our highways system is augmented by quite an extensive fleet of ferries (BC Ferries, actually). It's generally a reliable service, and only rarely out of schedule through avoidable instances. Some might disagree with its high prices, and restructuring as of late, but most British Columbians hold it dearly to their heart. This is especially so if they rely on it often.   

       Recently, measures were taken to increase the efficiency along one of its routes. It was thought that a reduction in the crossing time would allow for more sailings in a day, increasing capacity. A high-speed catamaran was produced, and failed. This was largely because the system was, ironically, horribly inefficient. Due to various design flaws, the actual time savings were only about 10 or 15 minutes on each trip. During a day, this would allow for maybe one or two extra sailings. This extra capacity could easily have been taken up by using reserve ships at a tiny fraction of the cost of development of the fastcats.   

       This is just one of the reasons why your idea would fail. The time savings is inconsequential. With a good crew, a ferry should be capable of unloading and loading a full load within 10-15 minutes. Giving a savings of half that, that's still only 5-7 minutes. Added up over a day, I'll be nice and say that you get 10 extra sailings. These 10 extra sailings would easily be taken up with extra ships. Again, the reserve ships being provided at a tiny fraction of the cost.   

       In fact, the advantages of this system would only become apparent on short routes, where many trips would be taken in a day. On a half hour trip, a savings of 5 minutes is signifigant. But one must think of the money being expended on designing and implimenting this new system. Especially in reference to the short routes where it might actually find use. Would it not be cheaper to just build a fixed link?   

       The three fastcats that BC Ferries produced cost nearly half a billion. That would have been a nice first payment (and 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th, and so on) on a floating underwater tunnel.   

       Sure, you might say that it's not feasible, and that ferries are the only way. To that I refer you simply to research the Prince Edward Island causeway. Or the Chunnel... Or any number of engineering projects that offer actual time savings.
rapid transit, May 19 2003

       hey, better idea, how about a bridge?
NVadirZim, Jul 08 2003

       the chunnel still has loading and unloading time, for long ferry journeys could be a good idea
engineer1, Feb 16 2004

       Regular service modern catamaran ferries, here in Denmark, un-load and load cars at the same time, i.e. cars rolling out in two rows, at the same time as two rows of cars are rolling in. The Sjaellands Odde to AEbeltoft service is 45 mins sailing time, and 15 mins roll-off/roll-on time, i.e. one hour timetables can be maintained.
sirau, Mar 02 2004

       i have a problem with this idea. If you just dump a whole deck's worth of cars on a ferry all at the same time wouldn't that rock the boat enough to cause problems?
Mr Machine, May 21 2004


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