Sounder SIGN UP FOR FREE
Hear UR
Hear UR

Season 3, Episode 3 · 2 years ago

Episode 302 - Ferry of Dreams

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Fast Ferry, headed by private company CATS, was marred with physical problems, poor funding, and disinterest. In this episode, we explore the Fast Ferry's arduous journey to launch day, a journey to achieve Rochester's dreams.

Welcome back to here you are season three. I'm your host, Tom Fleischmann, and here today for our second episode, we have Stefan in the studio. Stefan, introduce yourself. Hello, I'm Stefan Chaudry. I'm from Las Vegas and on the Sophomore. All right, and you're here today to tell us about the beginning of the fairy and the organization cats. That's right, and I understand though, from the very beginning they were all kinds of problems, impediments, obstacles the fairy service getting going. Yeah, that's right. I think one of the biggest obstacles to start out with was a company in charge of the fast fairy cats. They ran into a lot more obstacles than disinterest. What's cats stand for? Canadian American Transportation System. Okay, so what were the problems? Well, they had everything from funding problems to physical problems with the boat. They even had issues with boarders and customs. All these things get in the way, but yet they keep going. Why? I was trying to find a way to explain this and I was flipping through the channels the other night and I saw a movie that I used to watch when I was a kid field of dreams. Have you seen it? Course, James Ear old, Jones, Corn Iowa, baseball, all that other guy who's very handsome, Kevin Costner. That's right. Well, you know that scene when Kevin Costner's character is standing out in the Cornfield and he hears that voice? If you build it, they will come. NOPE, Nope, it's feel bad. Yeah, something like that. Well, that mantra reminds me a lot of what cats did to get the fairy to Rochester. Actually, what do you mean? Well, every time they had a problem, funding, problems with the engines or boarders, it feels like they heard that mantra in their head, if you build, they will go, and...

...they just pushed onward. Okay, okay, so now I'm beginning to understand how it works. So take me back to his start. How did cats get this is? Here you are, season three, episode two. Fairy of dreams. It's too thousand. The city of Rochester holds a contest to field proposals for their fast fairy project. A whopping one proposal came in and was chosen by default. That proposal was submitted by cats, a newly formed company led by Dominic Delucia and Brian F prince delucia and prince were first introduced to the fast fairy concept in two thousand. As natives to Rochester and self proclaimed multimillionaires, they were eager to give back to their community. With their combined experience, from their Mbas in corporate finance and accounting to their work at Lehman Brothers, they felt confident in their ability to bring the fast ferry to life. Also on board was Howard Thomas, President Marketing expert and Toronto local, along with nine other board members, only one of whom had actual experience with fairies. From the beginning, the fast ferry projects seemed to be in good hands. It was headed by both Rogistarians and Canadians, all of them prominent in their respective fields. But red flag number one appeared almost instantly. The initial plan called for two fairies to run between Rochester and Toronto, but cats had submitted a plan that would only operate one ferry. The city decided that they could overlook this because cats told them that running two fairies would eat up the city's budget of a hundred fifty million dollars. Long before running, they promised to deliver on the first ferry and would get a second running if the demand was high enough. Well, I would like to order as soon as possible, because there's a theory that says this route does not reach its highest and best use until you have a transit system moving back and forth with two boats, and that is indeed what are what our lenders are banking at.

Given that cats was the only company to submit a proposal, the city had no choice but to move forward with their drastically altered plan. The majority of cats as budget was allocated for building the first ferry, and even though Delucian prince had promised a hefty sum of their personal funds, they still had to seek loans from both the city and New York state. Cats needed the loan so that the shipbuilders could continue work on the ferry, but the loan didn't come as easily as they first thought. Their first hurdle was the Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority, or R Grtier for short. It was the city agency in charge of transferring public funds. They refused to supply the money of cats didn't meet their demands. One of these demands asked cats to verify the private investment they had pledged that is delucian prince, would have to reveal whether they did indeed possess the over nine million dollars slated in their budget proposal. Cats vehemently refused and a public argument broke out dominic DELUCIA and Mayor Bill Johnson against bill no Jay, the chairman of the R Grtia. Here's how it played out on local news. Show us the money, he doesn't need to see it. Show us a bank statement for the people who need to see him have same them. Show US commitment letters from private investors. They don't need to see it and that was never the agreement that they were to see it. And that's just the first that their disagreements. There's an old saying that Ronald Reagan had, which was trust, but verify. If the governor in the legislature trusted, it's our job to verify, to protect state taxpayer dollars. That's not true, says the mayor. It was like cooking a dose a cast or. That money was supposed to go directly through the Transit Authority without any impediments, without any blacketts, without any hold. Mr Noj has been trying to stand in the way of this project for considerable period of time. We wish cats the best of luck. That's a lot. That's another lie, Bill KNOWJ. You should do the right thing for this community,...

...and that's exactly what he says he's doing by guarding the taxpayers investment. It's not their money. It's R GRTA that is loaning money to cats. It is the state of New York's money. We are the state of New York. You are absolutely or state agency. That point is absolutely ludicrous. We are the conduit for the Public Funds. Then why not side it? Show us the money. Why not showing the money? First of all, there are those are not Mr noj's on the issues. I don't talk to Bill J why not? Because he's a he is a gevious he's a devious person. Trust but verify. Delays were threatened. Cats grew impatient, the public grew impatient. Mayor Johnson was forced to step in to save the fairy. In order to transfer the loan, Mayor Johnson only needed a city run agency, so he cut the R Grta out of the deal at entirely and replace them with the Rochester Urban Renewal Agency, or Rura, an agency that he had created himself. They did not inquire about cats as private funds and instead released the loan no questions asked, allowing cats to move forward. They had finally succeeded in the first steps of bringing the fairy of their dreams to Rochester. So it's kind of amazing that two people that were so well connected had such a hard time coming up with the funds for this project. Well, this was no ordinary fairy and, besides, we basically have no idea what happened with that money. To this day, cats has never released any of their financial statements. So do you think that cats was driving this thing in the wrong direction from the start? Well, not exactly. Cats wanted more than anyone to see the fairy succeed, but despite their ambition, they couldn't have foreseen what would happen next. At the turn of the century, transportation that crossed American borders would run into problems, major problems. Red Flag...

Number Two came on September eleven, two thousand and one. The terror attacks forced America to shut her borders and cats's plan was delayed indefinitely. Eleven changed American border security forever. Airplanes, cars and fairies would have to obey new regulations that demanded intense scrutiny of past and jers and cargo. A transit service that crossed the border needed a whole lot more. In order to be approved, cats would have to shell out more money on security systems and obtain even more licensing and approval for the ferry so that it could cross the border legally. This was no easy task. To complicate matters even further, a border crossing between Canada and the US across Lake Ontario had not happened in over fifty years. Charting a route across the lake in a post nine hundred and eleven environment would be even harder. A change in border security of this magnitude would have canceled most early stage projects, but ambition and a promise made to Rochester pushed cats onward. Initially delayed to early two thousand and three, the ferry was now slated to launch in May two thousand and four. So most companies would probably have thrown in the towel after facing so many obstacles. Why did they go forward? Well, I think the physical fairy was a big part of it. After they had invested so much, it really felt like there was no turning back once they started so what made the boat so special? Well, before I can tell you that, we've got to go back to the late S, when the fairy business was on the rise. In the late s and into the early s, the fairy busines nes saw a worldwide increase in government funding to relieve traffic issues in major cities. New York and Seattle already had ferry systems, but they were largely under budgeted and inconvenient for passengers. Across the border, fairies were common in British, Columbia and Quebec,...

...and more were on their way in Ontario. Most of these fairies had gotten started with a private company and ended up being subsidized by the government in order to integrate better with other mass transit in this case, cats fit the bill perfectly, but in order to run a ferry service first they needed a ferry. Enter austile ships, established in one thousand nine hundred and eighty eight. Austle was one of the companies responsible for the fairy boom starting in the late S. it's worth mentioning that much of that boom was attributed to the advent of the Catamaran, a new type of faery that revolutionized the industry because of Austle's recent success with that model of ship and cats is considerable budget, they decided to build the mother of all catamarants for Rochester. It was quite fitting for cats, whose director of planning set at the beginning of the project there's nothing better than playing with boats, and if you want to play with boats, why not play with a big, exciting boat? The fairy was a prototype, the first of its kind, and was the largest and most powerful Catamaran soon to be in the US. Equipped with cutting edge technology, AUSTILE's ferry for Rochester easily lived up to cats's ambition. It was named the spirit of Ontario. It was completed in October two thousand and three, and a couple of months later, the fairy was ready to make the trip to Rochester. On April first two thousand and four, the spirit of Ontario was headed for Rochester through New York City. It was to be docked in Manhattan before making the next leg of its journey through the Erie Canal. Bob Mansfield, the only cats executive in New York City at the time, was on the phone with Dominic Delucia when red flag number three, just weeks after being...

...removed from the assembly line. Spirit of Ontario was sporting a twenty five foot Gash above the starboard sides waterline after ramming into a Manhattan Pier. It is getled superficial damage and we're confidence that it'll be repaired very quickly. The fairy had just made a long journey from its dry dock in Perth, Australia, where Alsto had constructed the ship. So a small Gash meant that it had actually gotten off easy. Repairs were made in Manhattan and it was soon on its way. Twenty six days later, the fairy finally arrived lived in Rochester. Floating it over five stories tall, the fairy docked itself at the newly built an equally impressive port of Rochester. Five hundred people had come to welcome the ferry to its new home. For both cats and the fairy, the journey had been arduous and full of obstacles, but cats had built it and riders would soon come. Cats and Mayor Johnson were on the cusp of achieving their dream, and then the fourth red flag appeared. While making a test run to Toronto, the crew discovered that the engines were overheating. Repairs would have to be made before launch. To add insult to injury, the crew was not allowed on the ship until repairs were completed, and without access to the facilities, they couldn't finish the necessary safety training. All two hundred crew members were put on unpaid leave and the ferry was moored in Toronto until repairs were made, estimated to cost one million dollars. Cats didn't have to foot the bill, but the engine problems exacted a different price. The launch was now delayed by seven weeks. Instead of early May, the fairy was now expected to launch mid June. Public Trust was at an all time low and morale for the crew was even lower. The only solution to this distrust was to get the ferry up been running as soon as possible, barring any other...

...setbacks cats might face. The end was in sight and cats could not be dissuaded. And then the long awaited day came, June thirteen, two thousand and four Christening Day for the spirit of Ontario. Everyone who made the fairy possible was in attendance, including Mayor Johnson and the executives of cats. Even Jan Wong, the writer of fairy bad place, was there and she was wearing an Iheart Rochester t shirt, despite her scathing article published only a couple of months earlier. The event was invite only and included a christening, ribbon cutting and a thirty minute ride on the ferry to showcase its interior and its speed. The atmosphere was bright and cheery, but the reality for cats was bleak. The fifth and final Red Flag was revealed in a report released years after the launch. Cats was at least four million dollars in debt at this point, and they were going to sink even further into the hole since their main source of revenue never even got running. Cats never meant to make a profit off of ticket sales alone. They wanted to put every inch of their massive fairy to use, including the cargo hold, which could carry up to ten full size as commercial trucks. Cats wanted to transport goods across the lake in these trucks, but this required special customs approval from both countries. The certification would take too long and cats was out of time, so they had to bite the bullet and launch the boat in spite of their massive debt. Five days later, on June eighteen, the ferry would open for its first official day of service. But for a first day launch, the ridership was extremely low. Out of the seven hundred seventy four passengers that the fairy could potentially carry, only sixty seven riders were present for the fairies first trip, even though cats had advertised that it was sold out. Too many. It...

...seemed as though cats had grossly overestimated their daily ridership and their boat was just too big for the lake. What's more, there were clues that cats was deep in debt. The cost of tickets are going up as a way to cover one million dollars in customs fees. Cat says it will roll an extra four bucks on two passengers. It's a nominal charges four dollars us and I'm very confident that we're going to be able to waive that the not too distant future. The change seemed minor, but it indicated something going on behind the scenes. But for now the public didn't notice amongst all the hoop law. And besides, it's still be taking the QWIW from the start. Many observers assume the fairy was jinxed, but on launch day cat's got the opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong. Regardless of their financial state, they succeeded in bringing a fast faery to Rochester. Everyone who rode the ferry while it ran lauded it as a unique experience, and we're happy that it had come to the lake. Even more people would be sad to see it go. I'll just consent to be dream. Even if I could have fun a stable, I would take the ferry boat every time. This has when here you are a podcast from the Department of History at the University of Rochester. The lead researcher for this episode was Defaan Chowdry. This episode was produced by Grace Julian and sound engineering was by Kesey Brentnow. Our narrator for this episode was DEFN Chaudrey. The coordinating producer for the season of who you are is William Gucios. The executive producers are Thomas Fleischman and Stephen Resner. Music for this episode was provided by Kesey Brnnoll. Our theme song, the Ferry Boat serenade, was written by Harold Adamson, Mario Penzeri and Eldo de Lazar and arranged by Elean...

...or Leno. It was performed by Elizabeth Tie, Lauren Bales, Elean or Leno and Dr Bell and engineered by Ethan Weinstein. A big thank you to Maybelle Johnson for agreeing to be interviewed for this podcast. The production team at here you are. Would also like to thank the following people and organizations. Thank you to Michelle Fin and the Rochester Public Library for their guidance and access to newspapers and research materials. Thank you to colleen law and W RROC channel eight for access to their extensive newslips. Thanks to Melissa Meade from rare books and collections at the University of Rochester for her insight into proper research methods and practices, and especial thanks to Sandra Nipsel for interview advice, so Fiato car for Social Media Tips and Janelle Hart for her graphic design work. For more information on this episode, including images, additional links transcripts, as well as the rest of season three, visit here you arecom thanks for listening. I love music. Is So mad every on. The boys and girls are dust. What sweetheart sorrows. Happy as we can together, happy as we seem together, happy with the very boat. Seven.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (26)