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128 Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services Large operators can afford to manage in-house maintenance facilities and staff while smaller operators often contract services out to dedicated docks or companies. All operators consider a number of issues related to maintenance to determine the arrangement that fits best with the size of the operation and its budget. These issues include the following: Retaining in-house maintenance staff or contracting to an external company Determining the types of maintenance that can be completed in-house versus contracting to an external company Determining daily cleaning requirements Handling environmental concerns (i.e., gray water/bilge water/wastewater disposal) Handling engine re-hauling/dry docking Handling emergency repairs If managing an in-house maintenance facility, identifying the optimal location for the facility given the service's terminals and docks Determining the optimal maintenance arrangement for an operator is often influenced by how the service is provided. Smaller operators may contract for many services, and daily main- tenance such as cleaning and other necessary repairs may be covered within the contract. Other operators may use internal maintenance staff for all maintenance needs. Larger operators typi- cally use this maintenance approach. In addition, Coast Guard regulations require that the vessel be inspected annually, and every 5 years ferry hull inspections (where the vessel is either dry docked or the hull is inspected by divers in the water) are required. Marketability FTA and TRB have conducted extensive research on passenger behavior and transit best prac- tices to encourage ridership. Most of these transit best practices are applicable to ferry passen- gers (Diaz et al., 2004). Reliability Ferry operators, like their land-based counterparts, consider reliability to be of paramount importance to the marketability of a service. Following best practices regarding choosing the appropriate vessel, using off-the-shelf designs, and then maintaining and operating service well will contribute to delivering a reliable service. Service Frequency Frequency of service and "clock" headway service (where the service leaves at the same time every hour throughout the day) are best practices for ferry operators, as for all transit providers. For an urban service, service that is frequent enough to allow random and unscheduled system entry by passengers makes the service more marketable. Likewise, scheduled service that oper- ates on easy-to-remember clock headways (such as 10 minutes and 40 minutes after the hour and so forth) becomes familiar and seems friendlier to the user. Longer spans of service (hours of operation through the day) also encourage ridership. Passenger Information Because delays are inevitable, it is important to passengers to have real-time information (it is also helpful for transit systems, especially when the information shows that schedule adher-

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Issues in Ferry Service Management and Operation 129 Figure 8-10. Real-time information. ence is the norm, and encourages patronage). Internet and mobile-phone-based applications are effective in not only providing basic information (e.g., on schedules and fares) but also in broadcasting delays, schedule changes, and other breaking news. See Figure 8-10 for an example of in-terminal real-time information. Branding Ferries, and all transit systems, benefit from distinctive branding that defines the service relative to other transportation options. The ferry-operator best practice is to use branding to reinforce a positive and attractive identity that motivates potential customers and makes it easier for them to use the service.