BC Ferries Secures $75 Million CIB Loan to Launch Vessel Electrification Program

bc ferries

BC Ferries to buy four zero-emission ferries and required terminal charging infrastructure. (CNW Group/Canada Infrastructure Bank)

by | May 27, 2024

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BC Ferry Services Inc. is set to embark on a fleet electrification initiative backed by a $75 million loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). This financing will facilitate the acquisition of four zero-emission ferries and the installation of essential charging infrastructure. The Island class vessels, designed for smaller volumes and shorter routes, mark a significant step in the company’s mission to transition to more environmentally friendly and quieter ferry services.

The electrification project, slated for completion by fiscal 2027, is projected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 9,000 tons annually. This move aligns with broader goals to mitigate environmental impacts and enhance passenger experiences with quieter commutes. The existing diesel-hybrid ferries in BC Ferries’ fleet will be reassigned to other routes, replacing older vessels at the end of their service life.

Strategic Investment in Sustainable Infrastructure

The CIB’s loan addresses the higher upfront capital costs of transitioning from diesel to electric ferries. This investment will expedite the electrification of BC Ferries’ operations, which are among the most extensive ferry networks globally. The loan repayment will be sourced from BC Ferries’ standard operating revenues, including passenger fares and retail income.

Ehren Cory, CEO of the CIB, highlighted the strategic importance of this partnership, noting that it will significantly advance the electrification of the ferry network. The initiative brings environmental benefits and promises a more pleasant travel experience for local residents and visitors to the Vancouver area.

BC Ferries operates 37 vessels across 25 routes, serving 47 terminals along 1,600 kilometers of British Columbia’s coastline. In fiscal 2024, the company transported 9.5 million vehicles and 22.6 million passengers, underscoring its pivotal role in regional transit.

Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions

This collaboration represents a milestone in Canada’s broader strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities, emphasized that greener transit solutions are essential to combating climate change. He praised the CIB’s efforts in supporting this initiative, which will contribute to Canada’s environmental objectives.

Honorable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport, echoed this sentiment, underscoring zero-emission ferries’ environmental and community benefits. These vessels will reduce carbon emissions and minimize noise pollution, improving the quality of life for those near ferry routes.

Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO of BC Ferries, expressed confidence that the partnership with the CIB will enhance the system’s capacity and flexibility. He highlighted the environmental and operational advantages, ensuring passengers can rely on safe, reliable, eco-friendly ferry services.

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