Progress association calls on council to implement SMS messaging system for ferry alerts

SMS alerts: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council could be moving toward implementing an SMS messaging alert system when its ferry services breakdown.

SMS alerts: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council could be moving toward implementing an SMS messaging alert system when its ferry services breakdown.

The Northside Progress Association says an SMS messaging system to alert residents when either ferry has broken down has moved a step closer.

This follows a meeting on November 9 involving the association and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council mayor Peta Pinson, Cr Sharon Griffiths and council's acting director Andrew Doig.

The mayor said a meeting involving key stakeholders will be organised to discuss the matter.

“I have had discussions with the general manager and there are efforts afoot to move forward with the SMS messaging service,” the mayor said.

“That will be decided by the general manager and his staff.”

The matter came to a head on November 3 when a Settlement Point ferry service breakdown saw North Shore residents flood the smaller Hibbard Ferry.

Doubling down on the issue, according to the progress association, was that there was little to no information made available from council.

The breakdown affected students studying their Higher School Certificate and students trying to organise transport from the northern side of the river around to the Settlement Point area.

It was acknowledged in Thursday's meeting that there are issues that we need to work through.

Kingsley Searle

Association president Kingsley Searly said North Shore residents deserved more communication when either ferry service is stopped.

"And that should be the case following last Thursday's meeting," Mr Searle said.

"Everyone in the meeting was basically saying the same thing: why is it taking so long to get an SMS system and a bus contingency plan in place.

"There are also traffic issues around this same issue and, while it is a difficult one to solve, that doesn't mean that we won't be looking at it.

"As residents, we really need to get this done.

"I am really pleased to see the mayor is supportive and has arranged a meeting with key stakeholders, including councillors, the ferry contractor, Busways representatives, council staff and the association."

Mr Searle said a streamlined process would help ease the angst associated with a ferry breakdown.

"It was acknowledged in Thursday's meeting that there are issues that we need to work through," he added.

The association president congratulated the mayor, Cr Griffiths and Mr Doig for their 'openness and willingness to listen and participate in finding a solution'.