Ferry-slip upgrade planned on Pa. side

Posted: April 16, 2009

Passengers on the seasonal ferry between Philadelphia and Camden will get an upgraded waiting area at Penn's Landing by next spring as the Delaware River Port Authority moves to improve terminals on both sides of the river.

The authority board approved yesterday a $420,140 contract to design a multimillion-dollar makeover of the Penn's Landing terminal. Last month, the board approved a $420,466 contract for the design of a new ferry terminal in Camden.

Improvements on the Philadelphia side will include a seasonal building to replace the large tent now used for waiting passengers. Plans also call for landscaping, new fences, digital signs to inform passengers of departure times, improved lighting, and handicap-accessible entrances.

The summer RiverLink ferry, which carries tourists and concertgoers to Adventure Aquarium and the Susquehanna Bank Center, had 186,000 riders last year and an operating profit of about $72,000, excluding capital costs.

The Penn's Landing improvements will not be made in time for this season, which begins May 2, but are expected to be ready for 2010, port authority officials said. The new ferry dock in Camden, expected to cost about $4 million, will be built about 300 feet north of the existing terminal at the aquarium and won't be ready until at least 2011.

The Penn's Landing contract was awarded to Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson Inc., a consulting engineering firm in Philadelphia.

In other business yesterday, a port authority committee approved a plan to allow PATCO train riders to buy fare cards online by October.

The committee approved a three-year $317,420 contract with Acadaca L.L.C. of New York to develop and run the Web program. The system would allow riders to buy "Freedom" automated fare cards and manage their accounts from their home or office computers.

The contract requires approval by the full board next month. Acadaca has created similar online systems for New York's PATH trains and for Miami-Dade Transit.

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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