DRPA to sell off RiverLink Ferry

At its first meeting of 2015, the Delaware River Port Authority’s Finance Committee voted to recommend the sale of the RiverLink Ferry to a joint venture between the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership for $300,000.

The sale is contingent on the DRPA Board of Commissioners approval at the next meeting, which is scheduled for January 21st. Before considering the motion to sell the RiverLink, which was not listed on the agenda prior to the meeting, the Finance Committee discussed the matter behind closed doors in an executive session. The Committee approved the motion unanimously. 

DRPA CEO John Hanson said his staff and representatives from the DRWC-CFP joint venture have already agreed upon general terms for the sale of the ferry, which operates between Penn’s Landing and the Camden Waterfront. The DRWC in Philadelphia and CFP in Camden are both non-profit organizations charged with the development and revitalization of their respective sides of the Delaware River.

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation President Thomas Corcoran joined the DRWC from the Cooper’s Ferry Development Association, Inc (CFDA).,  in 2009. He was founding president and CEO of CFDA, which spearheaded the development of the Camden waterfront, for 25 years.

The DWRC declined to comment for this story, and CFP did not return PlanPhilly’s call for comment.

The deal will allow DRPA to focus its attention on its core assets – PATCO and its four bridges – by selling off the ferry and the two docks that currently comprise the RiverLink system. This is DRPA’s latest divestiture from the tourism and economic development projects that have garnered the agency sharp criticism and federal probes. Other than previously committed funds, the DRPA is no longer investing in projects unrelated to crossing the Delaware. 

Hanson noted that the DRWC and CFP, which both organize and oversee events along the Delaware, would be in better positions to provide improved services to the RiverLink’s 150,000 annual passengers. The ferry operates from May to September, and is busiest during events along the Camden waterfront such as concerts at the Susquehanna Bank Center and Camden Riversharks’ home games.

The RiverLink started operations in 1992, and the DRPA assumed control of it in 2000. Starting in 2004, the DRPA began to outsource RiverLink operations to private ferry operators, while retaining ownership over the ferry system.Currently, RiverLink’s revenues usually just barely cover operating expenses. If actualized, the proposed sale would mark the end DRPA’s long standing de-facto monopoly over public river crossings.

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