Where Im standing now was never part of the Roman Empire.
The frontier was here, the river Main.
Today, its the border between Bavaria and Hesse,
and Im standing on the Bavarian side.
Behind me: the Hessian town of Seligenstadt.
There is a footbridge for walkers and cyclists... four kilometres away.
Anyone driving a car will have to go further and use the autobahn,
or drive in the other direction almost as far as Hanau.
Luckily, theres a ferry.
In just a few minutes it will take you and your bike, moped, car or van across the river
to visit this beautiful historic town.
Visitors from the Bavarian side often park their cars here for free,
instead of hunting for a parking space in town,
which they then have to pay for.
Its not just tourists that use it, of course.
Some people from Bavaria work in Seligenstadt,
and some people from Seligenstadt work on the Bavarian side
for example, at this little complex that belongs to the parish of Karlstein.
But theres a problem.
Ticket sales dont begin to cover the cost of actually running the ferry,
which is owned and run by the Seligenstadt town council.
And the town council is finding it increasingly difficult to find the budget for it.
In 2015, the ferry made a loss of 330,000.
And the problem is being made even worse
by the fact that the ferry is seriously short-staffed.
And thats why, a few months ago, the ferry changed its hours of operation.
It doesnt start until 9.45 in the morning,
making it useless for commuters;
and it stops just after eight in the evening
very inconvenient for Bavarians whod quite like a nice meal in one of Seligenstadts restaurants.
Plus, it has a little nap just after lunch.
So why not... build a bridge?
Well, theyre certainly looking into it, but its a very controversial idea.
First of all, it would spoil this view, and nobody really wants that
and honestly, who can blame them?
But the other thing is that it would cost millions and millions,
and there would be maintenance costs for ever after;
so actually, not much of a saving at all. Especially in the short term.
However, the ferry benefits not just Seligenstadt, but Karlstein as well.
Couldnt Karlstein help subsidize it? Take the pressure off Seligenstadt?
Seligenstadt would certainly be up for that.
Karlstein, not so much.
You see, while its true that commuters do use the ferry,
they still make up only a tiny portion of the total numbers.
It is mostly tourists,
and tourists dont visit Karlstein.
And so the Karlstein parish council isnt interested.
So, thats it. Stalemate, it seems.
Seligenstadt cant afford to run a full ferry service,
Karlstein doesnt think it should help, and a bridge seems out of the question.
And if a permanent solution isnt found soon,
I may have to find somewhere else to get my favourite ice-cream.
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