BC Ferries launches public consultation on new major vessels to Vancouver Island

Mar 13 2019, 11:31 pm

BC Ferries is seeking feedback from the public on the design of its future order of five new large ferries that will serve the major routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

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These ferries will potentially add capacity, replacing four aging vessels including the Queen of New Westminster, Queen of Alberni, Queen of Coquitlam, and Queen of Cowichan, which are all some of the largest vessels on the ferry fleet. They were built between the late-1970s and early-1980s, with each carrying a capacity of between 1,200 and 1,500 passengers and up to 300 vehicles.

The new replacement vessels arriving in the mid-2020s could potentially entail dual-fuel engines that rely mainly on LNG to reduce emissions, low-friction hull coating to improve fuel efficiency, hybrid battery systems, and variable frequency drives and thruster/pod propulsion systems to reduce underwater and airborne noise.

Moreover, the new vessels could be designed in a way that allows for automatic mooring, multiple passenger walkways, and the conversion of the upper car deck into a passenger deck to accommodate increased foot traffic.

At this time, the ferry corporation is looking for public feedback on the onboard passenger amenities that could be provided on the new vessels.

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

The new vessels could potentially include creature comforts such as enhanced kids’ play areas and parent room facilities, relocated and expanded pet spaces on the passenger deck, new and improved outdoor spaces offering various types of seating, a new pre-order and pre-pay food app for mobile devices and onboard kiosks to decrease wait times for food services, as well as technological enhancements such as new televisions and charging stations.

Feedback on the new passenger amenities and interior designs can be submitted through an online survey from now until April 12, 2019, and it will be used to inform the required design of the vessels by the end of this year ahead of the launch of the procurement process.

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