BC Ferry Commission Approves the Purchase of New Ferries for Gabriola, Quadra, and the Southern Gulf Islands

In a few years anyone who wants to ride the Quinsam will have to head to Salt Spring. The BC Ferry Commissioner has approved BC Ferries’ application for four new Island Class vessels and one new Salish Class vessel. Two of the Island Class vessels are earmarked for the Gabriola/Nanaimo route, the other two will serve the Quadra/Campbell River route, and the Salish Class Vessel will replace the Mayne Queen on its multi-island route in the Southern Gulf Islands. The Quinsam will be redeployed to the Crofton-Vesuvius route.

The following excerpt is of particular interest:

After receiving clarifications from BC Ferries, the commissioner is confident that the potential impact of the preferred option on future price caps will be offset by efficiency gains from fleet standardization and the eventual conversion to all-electric propulsion for the Island class vessels. The commissioner will take this into account when setting price caps for future performance terms. Accordingly, the commissioner has determined that the preferred option should not, in itself, drive future price caps significantly above the rate of inflation and is therefore affordable to ferry users and taxpayers.

The commissioner has noted that in its Application, BC Ferries has not stated their intentions regarding the potential conversion to all-electric propulsion for the four new Island class vessels other than providing extra battery space in the construction of the vessels. Given the trend towards all-electric ferries in Northern Europe and elsewhere BC Ferries should soon state their expectations and intentions regarding the potential conversion to all-electric propulsion for the Island class vessels to be deployed on routes 23 and 19.

For these reasons the commissioner finds the preferred option to be prudent because it demonstrates good judgment by proposing replacement vessels with hybrid propulsion.

To download the full report click here: http://www.bcferrycommission.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FC-Order-19-02-and-Findings-and-Determinations.pdf.

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