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Season 3, Episode 5 · 2 years ago

Episode 304 - The Final Questions


The Fast Ferry has left Lake Ontario, 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.

Their Register, soally responsible for everything is for should roan letter city. They usual smart. I guess these wrong. I call this shadow long time ago. Its very least going to say. is a really good projects for racist and I can understand why he's the back and but I do feel that this land project because really was the personal thing and he really needed to let the boat go, because we're going to be feeling it in our pockets for a very, very month and I will not allow anyone to gratuitous may destroy my reputation. And as up today to study at Rochester, stepping back away from the ferry business, this is here you are, season three, episode four. The final questions. I'm reared in Ryan. And let's go back to April two thousand and seven. After a hard fought bidding war between the city and multiple bidders, mayor Robert Duffy settles on the German based creditors Frs. Four months and sixty nine million dollars later, the spirit leaves Lake Ontario, never to return. In its wake a fiscal and emotional phantom that will haunt Rochester for years to come. How exactly did it come to this? We turn in New York State's fifty third comptroller, a man by the name of Alan Havessi. The Office of the New York State Controller is an independent party which runs internal investigations on city spending in cases of potential fraud, abuse or fiscal misbandigement. On July twenty seven two thousand and six, the office released a report on the fast ferry project. The spirit of Ontario was in hot water. The audit examined the financial records of cats and the city from September nineteen two thousand and one to April fifteen of two thousand and five, and...

...framed itself around two simple questions. Did city officials provide adequate due diligence when approving and monitoring the project, and we're appropriate safeguards in place to protect the public's interest? COVESSI detailed a number of concerns with the plan. Such concerns included a disparity between vessel capacity and demand, a lacking financial model, the questionable nature of cats existing equity, fewer turns in the service, lack of interest from the Toronto Public and, ultimately, the fact that there wasn't much time saved overall compared to other forms of transport. Essentially, have Assi believed there were a lot of red flags coming into this project, but instead of looking to other competitors, Rochester decided to take a chance on cats. Former Mayor Bill Johnson did not agree with the vessey's report and toss their claims right back into the controller space. I want to characterize this report I one word. It is neglishied. Bill Johnson defended his reputation against the VESTI's findings. He even characterized Avesti as a friend. Well Ver, those who have read the report may not find it to be too friendly. While the report aggressively broke down Rochester's actions, Havevessi's own malpractice blew the boat out of the water, so to speak. He resigned later that year as a part of the plea bargain with the Albany County court for using state employees to care for his ailing wife. In two thousand and seven, the former controller was fined five thousand dollars and permanently banned from holding public office ever again. In two thousand and eleven HAVEVESSI pleaded guilty to corruption charges concerning a paid a play scheme within the New York State Pension Fund. and was sentenced to four years in prison. Okay, it's your host, Tom Fischmann. I'm going to step back in here for a second. So weird in was this thing doom from the start? Well, not exactly. What do you mean? Well, there's another place where a story similar to Rochester's, where they put another fast fury... the water at the same exact time. Really, where's that? Well, let me tell you about Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I drove through downtown Milwaukee to the shores of Lake Michigan. As I headed over the home bridge, I could actually see cargo ferries out on the water. I turn right off the main road and then to a parking lot. The area was desolate. I got out of my car and walked around a bit in the large empty parking lot. It was pretty gloomy and very windy. It's the offseason now, but during the spring, summer and fall this port is home to another ferry service, the Lake Express. Okay, quickly corrected us on that. This is not a boat, this is a ship, and you ride on a boat if your ship sinks. That was David Lubar talking about a conversation he had in one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine with his future business partner Kensas Ali. So a boat of a lifeboat, but a ship is what crosses the lake. Zali and Lubar are the CO founders of the Lake Express, a ferry operating between Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and miskege in Michigan. A fairy ride from Milwaukee to Miskegan for just a gap created by Lake Michigan. Patrons of either shoreline can avoid the hassle of driving down and around through congested Chicago traffic and quickly cut across the lake to the respective destinations. Three hours and ten minutes on a cushy fairies seems a lot better than the four hours and twenty seven minutes Google maps predicts your car ride to take. The port cities are anything but random. There are nomage to the lake expresses predecessor the SS Milwaukee Club. The first time around it was a Michigan idea. Brothers Max and Mark McKee bought a steamer and refurbished it with the steel superstructure for the early twentieth century. An advancement like this was almost identical to the development of Aluminum Catamarans in the late twentieth century.

On June third nineteen forty one, the clipper made her maiden voyage. During World War II. The clipper would make weekday trips from muskegue into Chicago and weekend trips from muskeg into Milwaukee until the end of the war, nineteen forty five. She operated until nineteen seventy, embarking on voyages from Mouskegan to Milwaukee Year round. After nineteen seventy, Milwaukee was understandably lacking in cross lake transportation. This Zali, then director of the Porn Milwaukee, proposed the lake express as a remedy to that absence and as a tribute to the clipper. The Lake Express travels the same path, like Prince and DELUCIA and Rochester. Neither as a Zali nor Lubar had any significant fairy experience, but an unforeseen alliance was formed and the two men set out to find a ship that wouldn't sink. With the partner's determination, the sleep of faith got tangible results. On June first, two thousand and four the lake express set sail, becoming the first high speed fairy to operate in American waters. Seventeen days later, the spirit of Ontario started making trips across Ontario. Both the spirit and the express stood on the shoulders of previous fairy systems and both featured donutical technology she never before seen in the US. But at the end of the summer the spirit of Ontario was docked. The Lake Express kept going and has never stops its starting at the lake express did not go off without a hitch. The Shit model, a fully aluminum Catamaran, had never been constructed within the United States. Most ships of this type operated in foreign waters. The more obvious solution would be outsourcing the CATAMARAN. Unfortunately, the PORTA Milwaukee was up against regulations from Uncle Sam, the Jones Act under maritime law. The Jones AC prohibits any foreign built or foreign flag vessel from engaging and coastwide trade within the United...

States. In other words, since both Michigan and Wisconsin are in the US, any ships doing business between the two have to be built within the country. Project managers decided upon Austle, the same company that built the spirit of Ontario. This isn't a coincidence. AUSTILL was one of only a few companies in the world that built aluminum catamarans. But unlike the spirit. The Express didn't have to make that far of a trip to its home port to align with the Jones AC the lake express is constructed in Austle's American branch and Mobile Alabama. Since a ship of this style had never been employed within the states this met there was no system of training for fairy workers except outside the US. To make matters worse, there weren't many banks out there willing to offer loans, as few had experience dealing with maritime ventures. Venture capitalists don't usually get involved in something they have no knowledge about, so financing was an issue right off the bat. Lubarns, is all, you were faced with a unique and completely unfamiliar venture, right with dozens of risks and problems before even having a physical product. So they did a very big thing, a thing many of us forget to do. They ask for help. Good thing they never tell an entrepreneur is that if you go it alone, you get one hundred percent of the credit for a failed idea. You then all one hundred percent of zero and if you really want to, you can do a self lawtops you all by yourself. So it pays to have and to develop friends and supporters. That way, you will have someone to complain to what things aren't going right, you'll have someone to give you advice, even when you don't want to hear it, but ultimately you'll greatly increase your chances of having a successful project because hopefully you're bringing people to the table who are smarter than... The two met with dozens of ferry service companies to run the line. They presented their project over and over to these operators, who remained wary. As in Rochester, they couldn't seem to find a partner who would be capable or willing to undertake such a risky project. The too believe that public operators would be able to react quickly as privatized operators whose only prerogative was their current project. So, with extreme patients they waited out proposals and presentations until they found their match. According to Azzoli, there would be no secrets, no backdoor deals, no cutting foreigners. In the meantime, the port of Milwaukee did research. Having done initial market analysis in the early months of the project, the port continued to compare their results with further studies. They wanted to ensure that the initial interest wasn't dwindling. Each time of study. One out the port took into account the customer pool, the prices they were willing to pay for tickets and whether they would bring cars, bikes or the free of charge baby. Currently, the Lake Express offers both a classic and Premiere Cabin, with one way and round trip tickets available. The classic cabin offers varying prices for adult, senior college students and even a discount for active military. It's a hundred and sixty one dollars for round trip, Ninety five dollars for one way out of Milwaukee. The premiere cabin prices are much more lofty. For whopping two hundred and seven dollars you can ride round trip, or a hundred and seventeen dollars to simply sail one way with an extra level of service. So the story of the Lake Express reveals one version of the Rochester fast ferry then might have been the express, in form and practice, looked a lot like the cats run ferry, a private company making a profit but...

...serving a small number of people who can afford the ride. Was this the best version of the fast ferry Rochester could have hoped for? Here you are in Modern Day Manhattan. It's five in the afternoon and for most people working in midtown that means it's time to head back home. In a city like New York, there are many ways to compute. You could take your bike, take the subway, you could even walk a couple of blocks. You're closer. If you're homes a New Jersey take a great hound from the Port Authority or train from Penn station. If you live in Westchester County, weave your way through Grand Central, take the metro north up from the island and enjoy a nice view of the Hudson River on your way back. If you have nerves of steal or enough time to kill, you could even brief the rush hour traffic in your car. Our trip today is going to take us across the East River to Long Island city, but where we're going we don't need land. In these past couple of years, New York City has experienced a fairy boom, with new routes opening up as we speak. Other cities such as Stan Francisco, Seattle and Orlando have been following suit. Even outside of the states, London, Dubai, Bangkok, Mumbai, Cairo and Sydney are growing and developing their own fairy services. They've been proven to reduce congestion in major cities and, if provided water fronts with more accessible mass transit, as the world population continues to grow, fairies might re emerge as a more convenient mode of transport for the urbanites of the twenty one century. Our right across the East River cost US two dollars and seventy five cents of person for a one way trip without a bike, but without subsidies from the city it would cost us upwards of twenty seven dollars and fifty cents a person. In...

...contrast to the Lake Express, New York City's fairy system doesn't provide a huge profit for the city or the port authority, instead substituting large revenue for convenience and accessibility. It's here that we can find an alternate ending to our fast fairy story. Remember that Rochester Service wasn't one operation. There was cats and then the city of Rochester's iteration. One meant to earn a profit, another only needing to break even. One Sawing the experience of the fair, the other the convenience. It's fairy was still running today, it would be hard to tell whether it would run like its midwestern cousin or its tri state counterpart. Last year, the port of Rochester terminal was set to be renamed in honor of Mayor Johnson. In spite of the fast ferry and even after its last run, the Charlotte area and the port of Rochester were able to develop mainly on account of the Johnson Administration. Go there today and you'll find a public park and ab it's ice cream and plenty of restaurants and bars along the waterfront. A two thousand and sixteen report from the Bureau of Transportation revealed that New York had forty three million five hundred fifty seven thousand five hundred and fifty passengerboarding counts, putting them at the second most boarded state, behind Alaska. In all other categories, New York tops the charts. Perhaps projects like the spirit or the shoulders these programs stood on, or the fast ferry was too ahead of its tart. As we experience this boom and other parts of the country, perhaps the spirit will rise again, this time with the full support of the proud community that built it. I can't take to number of people who come up to me. She'll do and they almost whispered road the fair. It was a wonderful experience to bay. You think it'll ever come back, because we really need I've never been a boat a stable. I'll just...

...content to be a dream. Even if I could have fought a stable, I would take the ferry boat every time this has been here. You are a podcast from the Department of History at the University of Rochester. Research and production for this episode was done by Ethan Weinstein and on saying and reared and Ryan. Sound engineering for this episode was done by Ethan Weinstein and a nonsen. The coordinating producer for the season is William Cusios. Executive producers for the season are Thomas Fleischman and Stephen Rester. Music for this episode was provided by Dominic Houser, Kevin mclode and Pottington bear. Our theme song, the Ferry Boat serenade, was written by Harold Adamson, Mario Penzeri and Eldo de Lazzaro and arranged by Eleanor 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 Marabelle Johnson for 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 Finn and the Rochester Public Library for their guidance and access to newspapers and research materials. Thank you to colleen law and W RO OC channel Ezer for access to their extensive newsclipts. 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 to music. is so much every on the up it. Girls are Du what sweetheart sorrows, happy as we think together, happy as we seem together, happy with the fedy boat seven.

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