Toronto waters may have a new ferry floating on them in the next few years, thanks to a plan from the City of Toronto to procure an entirely new fleet.
Ainsley Murray of the Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation division confirmed to Daily Hive that the City is planning to replace the current fleet of five ferries that go to the Toronto Islands with four new ones that will have increased capacities and high-quality, reliable service.
The news comes as weekend wait times for the ferry to Toronto Island have lasted hours due to increased demand and lowered capacity due to COVID-19 protocols.
According to the City, its ferry plans also include improved customer service, more accessible vessels, improving winter access to the island, improved efficiency of operations, limiting changes in ferry schedules, and incorporating green design elements.
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The rollout of the new ferries, though, will be slow. The first ferry could come as soon as 2024, dependent on market conditions. The rest will appear over a 15-year period. But once up and running, the new ferries, which will be hybrid diesel and electric vessels, will accommodate 1,300 passengers or 650 passengers and 14 cars. Ferries in the current fleet have passenger capacities between 220 and 975 people, according to the City’s website.
A budget and procurement plan is expected to be complete this year, with construction tender set to begin in 2022.