Transport bosses are to sink £630,000 into the Shields Ferry over the next three years to keep the service afloat.
Although the hulls of both ferries are in good condition, surveys have shown their engines need a ‘critical overhaul’ to keep going and the cash is also expected to cover work to improve the docks which act as a base for the boats.
A spokesman for Nexus, which runs the crossing, said: “The cross-Tyne Shields Ferry is a popular and iconic local service.
“We want to invest in the ferry’s infrastructure over the next three years to safeguard its long term future.
“The mechanical components and engines need to be overhauled.”
The ferry service is due to be discussed tomorrow by the North East Joint Transport Committee, which is made up of members of the North East Combined Authority (NECA) and the newly formed North of Tyne Combined Authority.
Transport operator Nexus, which is also responsible for the Metro, has already shelled out £680,000 on the ferry landings over the previous three years.
According to a report prepared for the committee this was mainly for works on the ferry landings to ‘stabilise their structural integrity’.
Cash to work the ferries themselves is also expected to include improvements to passenger facilities, as well as the engines.
A Nexus spokesman added: “There is also a requirement to refurbish seating, lighting and heating for customer comfort and safety.
“We are proposing that the works are carried out over the next three financial years at a cost of £476,000.
“The Ferry landings in North Shields and South Shields are also in need of continued investment following works over the past three years to stabilise their structural integrity.
“Further works to upgrade cladding, windows and external lighting is required together with refurbishment of fuel tanks at an estimated cost of £154,000.”
The Shields Ferry service, which has been operated by Nexus since 1972, carries about half a million passengers a year on two ferries – Pride of the Tyne and Spirit of the Tyne.
Pride of the Tyne has been in operation since 1993 and Spirit of the Tyne since 2007, but records show ferry services between North Shields and South Shields have been sailing since at least 1377.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service