In June of 2004, the Spirit of Ontario, a massive, five story tall passenger ferry, launched from the southern shore of Lake Ontario. It was the first voyage of a planned service that was to carry people, cars, and commercial trade between Rochester, New York and Toronto, Ontario. Within two and half months, however, it had closed. The boat launched again a year later, this time under the ownership of the city of Rochester. Yet it too would only last another season. By the end of its run, in January of 2006, the Spirit of Ontario had left behind millions of dollars in debt and unleashed a wave of anger and frustration. Was this a case of corruption? Of incompetent management? Or of good intentions gone awry. To find out, tune in to this, the third season of Hear UR, “Fast Ferry.”
What does the conventional wisdom get right and wrong about the rise and fall of the service.
In episode 1, HEARUR goes through the foundations of the short lived Rochester Fast Ferry. With the help from former Mayor of Rochester William A. Johnson, we get to understand what was really happening in Rochester during its Fast Ferry boom.
Rochester’s fast ferry was brought to life by the private company Canadian American Transportation Systems, or CATS. From building and transporting the ship to funding the project, CATS experienced many setbacks. In this episode, we explore those setbacks, and how CATS came to navigate the treacherous waters of the ferry business.
The Fast Ferry is officially open for business and taking passengers across Lake Ontario. But cracks in the operation are beginning to show. In this episode we go over the short but action packed life of Rochester’s Fast Ferry.
The Fast Ferry has left Lake Ontario, leaving the phantom we know of today. But could there have been an alternate ending? In this episode we take a look into the ferry’s postmortem, its Lake Michigan counterpart, and the state of ferries today.