Metro’s Climate Action Committee will be asking TransLink to consider creating an electric river bus service for Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadow and other cities along the Fraser River.
On Friday afternoon, the committee voted unanimously to convey “the idea of introducing an electric river bus service for Fraser River communities for consideration and evaluation as part of the development of Transport 2050 (the regional transportation strategy).”
Coun. Ahmed Yousef is Maple Ridge’s representative on the community, and he was excited about the proposal.
“It’s going to definitely be a game-changer for our region,” said Yousef.
He describes a service where commuters could get on a river bus at the Haney Wharf, travel on the Fraser to New Westminster in 20 minutes, and there connect with Skytrain.
He said the service being discussed is not designed to be “touristy.”
“It’s meant to be for commuters, to get to your Skytrain station.”
That being said, it would also work well to bring visitors from the region up the Fraser on a scenic river voyage that would connect with the Haney Wharf, and “that would feed directly into our downtown area,” said Yousef.
The proposed service would likely fall under TransLink’s jurisdiction, but Yousef noted there is also interest from private operators in running a for-profit service.
“The numbers being built in for a business case are favourable,” said Yousef.
He added there is local expertise, and boat builders in B.C. who could provide the vessels, meaning the project would create jobs.
A report by Metro staff noted electric passenger vessels are being used around the world as a zero-emission transportation alternative to traditional diesel-powered ferries.
“If this technology was adopted in the Metro Vancouver region, battery electric vessels could be powered by clean hydroelectric power resulting in minor upstream emissions as well as zero emissions at the source,” said the report.
“Passenger ferries make good candidates for battery powered systems since they tend to operate on short and consistent routes, which simplifies the planning and installation of the necessary charging infrastructure at the docking locations. Battery powered vessels might be more expensive at the outset, but may have lower maintenance costs and fuel consumption over time, as well as lower engine noise and emissions,” said the report.
In Canada, there are examples of all-electric ferry service currently being planned in Ontario and a hybrid-electric ferry service is being planned in BC by BC Ferries.
The cities that could use the service include the Township of Langley, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Burnaby, Richmond, Delta, New Westminster, Vancouver, Electoral Area A, Tsawwassen First Nation and potentially more.