BC Ferries is in the process of procuring four new hybrid electric vessels that are expected to bolster passenger capacity throughout the ferry system.
The company, which in December secured capital funding approval from BC Ferries Commissioner Eva Hage, said in a Dec. 11 statement that it hopes by 2027 the new vessels would be able to operate routes linking Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island and Campbell River and Quadra Island.
Each route would be served by two of the new vessels. The project would include electrical upgrades to allow for quick shore-based charging.
“BC Ferries proposed these four new hybrid Island Class vessels because added capacity is critical to helping us get people where they need to go efficiently and reliably,” company President and CEO Nicolas Jimenez said.
“As the commissioner has noted in her decision, this project will deliver improved customer service, help lower our costs related to crewing and training, and contribute to safe and reliable service for passengers up and down the coast,” he added.
When the new vessels arrive, the ones currently serving the routes would be redeployed to other areas. For example, redeploying vessels to the Crofton-to-Vesuvius route could mean a 20% increase in capacity, while capacity on Quadra-to-Cortes route could grow by about 70%, according to BC Ferries.
Also, the current system relief vessel would go to the Denman-to-Hornby route and operate year-round, a move that would double capacity and improve travel certainty all year, according to the agency.
The project also could lower emissions by an estimated 10,000 tons of CO2, BC Ferries added.