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June 12, 2012

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New bridge casts doubt on future of ferry dock

ONE of the city's oldest passenger ferry docks along the Huangpu River closed yesterday for renovation.

But it's possible that Mishidu Dock, struggling to stay alive at a time when other ways of crossing the river develop, may not reopen for some time, if at all, a reflection of the grim situation facing a once-booming industry.

The operator said there was no timetable for Mishidu's return to service.

Built in 1878 in suburban Songjiang District, Mishidu was closed after the operator found "safety hazards during daily operation."

The ferry, which took both passengers and vehicles, is now seldom used by vehicles after a new bridge opened nearby.

Tao Guiqing, a manager with the ferry company, said the dock was dangerous for passengers as it had been designed for vehicles. Around 700 passengers would use the ferry a day, the company said.

The ferry's golden age, for passengers and operator alike, has long passed.

Ferries across the Huangpu River have seen their popularity decline as bridges, tunnels and subways develop fast in the city. And while the cost of maintenance rises as the ferries age, the shrinking revenue each year just makes the situation worse.

Many will be sorry to see the service go. A woman, surnamed Gu, said the current 30-minute journey on the ferry would become an hour if she took a detour across the bridge.

An elderly man, surnamed Fei, said he hoped the ferry would return. "I grow up here and have taken the ferry since my childhood," Fei said, recalling once busy docks crowded with vehicles and passengers.


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