Sydney Ferries Operational Planning


Operations Planning and Resource Optimisation

Sydney Ferries Operational Planning

Client: Sydney Ferries Corporation, Australia
Date: 2006–2010

Project Description

Phillip Boyle & Associates has worked with Sydney Ferries since 2006 on a range of operational planning and scheduling projects. In 2009, we also provided technical and strategic support for the successful Sydney Ferries operating bid. Sydney Ferries is one of the world’s most recognised ferry services, providing service across Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River. Sydney Ferries’ fleet, comprising six unique vessel classes, operates over 175,000 services annually.


In June 2009, a set of revised shifts, running times and rosters were introduced, in addition to some timetable modifications. These rosters improved efficiencies and simplified operation.

Scope of Works

Key Tasks

Services to Sydney Ferries have included:

  • Providing advice regarding changes to labour agreements
  • Directly negotiating with maritime unions
  • Providing scheduling and operations planning advice and assistance
  • Assisting with implementation of computerised scheduling and rostering systems
  • Developing sophisticated spreadsheet-based rostering tools
  • Creating interfaces to operations information systems
  • Scheduling staff training.

Phillip Boyle & Associates worked closely with all stakeholders, including operations staff and maritime unions, to produce optimal operating solutions. This process involved an appearance at a Special Commission of Inquiry and submissions to Federal Court arbitration proceedings on Sydney Ferries’ behalf.

Key Challenges

Scheduling for ferry services presents a range of unique challenges associated with a maritime environment, including:

  • Unique constraints and requirements of vessel operation (e.g. maintenance, fuelling and berthing)
  • Comprehensive safety requirements overlaying labour agreements – the need for crew-based rosters (simultaneous rostering of masters, engineers and deckhands) and vessel ownership results in a series of ‘micro-scheduling’ problems
  • Unique vessel-type requirements
  • Complexities of having different crew categories on each vessel with their own labour rules.

sydney ferries pic
Sydney Ferries 2
Example of vessel ‘runnings’ in HASTUS, showing pairs of shifts sharing each vessel.


"Phillip Boyle consistently provided a high level of expertise, advice and management of the scheduling process. His strong technical skills and thorough understanding of transport operations were major assets to the provision of the Olympic and Paralympic games transportation services."

Organising Committee for the Athens Olympic Games, Athens 2004

"Phillip Boyle & Associates has supported the development of the SmartBus program through the planning and implementation phases. In particular on Route 901 and 902 he developed the timetable and worked with the multiple bus operators to create scheduling solutions for implementation. This included not only creating the vehicle runs and crew shifts but also development of information for the systems that support SmartBus technologies. In each case implementation went very smoothly and high levels of scheduling efficiency were achieved. Phillip’s operational expertise and ability to successfully work with the bus operators involved was critical to the successful implementation of these services."

Chris Bright, Manager SmartBus, Department of Transport, Victoria

"Phillip Boyle & Associates provided outstanding expertise in assisting Sydney Ferries with development of its successful operating bid, driving the development of a range of “outside the box” options aimed at improving service quality and increasing efficiency levels. Phillip Boyle’s combination of technical operations capabilities and commercial experience provided Sydney Ferries with significant benefits during this process."

Denis Mole, Chief Operating Officer, Sydney Ferries, NSW

"A highly successful implementation has been achieved, complete with substantial network changes and a complete rewriting of all operating timetables. During the scheduling process Phillip Boyle & Associates worked closely with both TransLink and ourselves to achieve the best possible outcomes. As a result the operation has been made simpler and substantially more robust. Implementation was helped significantly by Phillip Boyle’s operational planning and scheduling expertise."

Paul Davies, General Manager, Westside Bus Service, Queensland

"Phillip Boyle & Associates provided outstanding planning, operations and implementation expertise. The project was difficult due to the complex nature of the service (local, intertown and line haul services operating under a timed-transfer system) and the number of stakeholders involved. Phillip Boyle’s hands-on approach ensured a difficult implementation went smoothly. He worked effectively with a variety of stakeholders ranging from large and small bus companies, Department of Transport staff, Metlink and local government representatives. Not only did Mr Boyle help to redesign the service, but he also drove the implementation, including development of a regional timetable in a new format."

John Storrie, General Manager – Strategic Planning & Policy, Department of Transport, Victoria

"Phillip Boyle provided scheduling support for Brisbane Transport over several projects spanning almost ten years. The range of projects he has assisted with cover the scheduling, planning and human resources disciplines. In that time he has demonstrated high levels of scheduling, planning and operations expertise. I look forward to working with Phillip Boyle & Associates in the future and would highly recommend them to an organisation looking for planning, operations or scheduling expertise."

Roman Gafa, Network Scheduling Manager, Brisbane Transport, Queensland

"Phillip Boyle & Associates developed our operating bid for the V/Line services. Not only did they assist with format, structure and content, but also developed our operating plan and pricing strategies. Our bid success was due in no small part to the professionalism of Phillip Boyle, his ability to prepare a high-quality operating bid, and his detailed understanding of operations. Upon winning the bid, Phillip Boyle & Associates provided implementation support and advice necessary to ensure a successful implementation of the services."

Frank Bono, Managing Director, Firefly Express, Victoria

"Having worked with Phillip Boyle over many years I can say without a doubt he provides industry-leading expertise in the planning, scheduling and operation of public transportation services. His recent work on the Advanced Transit Scheduling Manual reinforced this view."

Dan Boyle, President, Dan Boyle & Associates, USA