BC Ferries moving to electric-powered ships

WatchSix electric-diesel hybrid ferries have been ordered with the intention they'll eventually run on just electricity

BC Ferries wants to reduce its carbon footprint.

The corporation is moving to electric-hybrid technology to replace some of its older diesel-powered ships.

The MV Quinsam is one of those vessels. She’s been taking passengers between Gabriola Island and Nanaimo since 1982.

“There’s the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and lower underwater noise. Reducing underwater noise, of course, is very important for the health of the whales and other sea creatures,” said Mark Collins, the CEO and President of BC Ferries, about the switch.

BC Ferries will be standardizing part of its fleet with six of these new ferries.

The first two will go into service in 2020 on the Powell River to Texada and the Port McNeill to Alert Bay and Sointula routes.

The other four will go into service in 2022 on the Campbell River to Quadra Island and Nanaimo to Gabriola Island routes.

“We’re planning to deploy two ferries to replace one so there will be an increase in capacity, an increase in frequency at the same time we get a reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions,” said Collins.

The chair of the Gabriola ferry advisory committee says he’s pleased with the direction BC Ferries is sailing.

“Right now, it’s about an hour and a quarter between ferries so they will be able to reduce that to forty minutes or even less. So that gives a lot more options for Gabriolans that are wanting to get to Vancouver Island and Nanaimo,” said Steven Earle, Chair of the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee.

While the head of BC Ferries won’t disclose the ships purchase price, he says there’s no appreciable difference in the cost to purchase the hybrids versus a conventional diesel ferry.

But he says after the purchase there will be fuel savings of 10 to 20 percent.

And eventually, the ferries will be fully powered by electricity once future electric infrastructure is in place at the terminals.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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