BC Ferries plans to build five next gen ferries

Written by Nick Blenkey
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BC Ferries is planning to build up to five new ferries that will replace four existing ships. The new ferries will potentially add capacity to the Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island routes and will replace the Queen of New Westminster, Queen of Alberni, Queen of Coquitlam and Queen of Cowichan that currently serve those routes.

The new ships are being specified to deliver enhanced environmental sustainability and to have the flexibility to meet any future changes in travel patterns.

BC Ferries expects the new vessels to enter service in the mid-2020s.

The acquisition of the ships is a major capital expenditure that requires the approval of the BC Ferries Commissioner under Section 55 of the BC Coastal Ferry Act. Subject to a favorable decision, BC Ferries expects to award a shipbuilding contract next year.

Meantime, the company is inviting customers and communities to join conversations about the new vessels and to provide input that will help shape their future onboard experience. It is holding customer engagement sessions on board the Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island routes and will also hold focused stakeholder workshops.

“This is an exciting project and we invite our customers to join the conversation,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President & CEO. “There is still a lot to be decided as we work to keep fares affordable, reduce our environmental impact, plan for future flexibility and enhance the onboard experience for customers.”

BC Ferries’ technical teams are currently identifying options to minimize underwater radiated noise (URN) and reduce environmental impact.

BC Ferries is also identifying the operational needs related to size and capacity, speed and maneuverability, space allotments and other technological requirements.

In addition to sharing information about the project and its key considerations with customers and the community, the company is also interested in hearing about how to improve the customer experience on board the new vessels, including:

  • Improvements and services related to accessibility (e.g. hearing induction loops, removing barriers to customer access and travel, etc.)
  • Food and beverage options, type of service and seating options
  • Design of children’s play areas
  • Enhancements to outdoor areas, seating types and new ideas
  • Design of the pet areas
  • Enhancements for foot passengers and customers who ride bicycles
  • Innovative technologies BC Ferries might adopt
  • Suggestions for lowering GHG profile
  • Any new or innovative ideas to enhance the customer experience

“One of the complexities of designing a new ferry is working within weight, space and cost restrictions,” said Collins. “This means we need to carefully think through each aspect of the design.”

The feedback received through engagement will be used to help inform the detailed design of the vessels. The vessel design will be shared with customers and communities as the project progresses so they can understand where their input was used, and where it wasn’t possible to incorporate feedback and why.


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