The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) has reached financial close on a $75 million loan to BC Ferry Services Inc. to help finance the purchase of four zero-emission ferries and install the required charging infrastructure.

“Partnering with BC Ferries on the CIB’s first electric ferry financing will help to accelerate the electrification of one of the world’s largest ferry networks. In addition to their environmental benefits, the new vessels will be quieter and offer more enjoyable commutes for local residents and visitors to communities in the greater Vancouver area,” said Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank.

The Island class vessels, which will be used on small volume and shorter routes, are part of the company’s ongoing efforts to replace its existing Island class fleet with quieter and more environmentally friendly ferries. The existing diesel-hybrid vessels will be transferred to other routes to replace ferries that have reached their end of life.

“Our partnership with the CIB to deliver these new Island Class vessels will increase system capacity, improve our flexibility to move ships across routes and make it easier to train and deploy our teams. It’ll also help us achieve important environmental benefits. All of this increases our passengers’ confidence we’ll get them where they need to go in a safe, reliable and environmentally conscious way,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO, BC Ferries.

The CIB’s loan will cover the higher upfront capital costs of the ferries compared to diesel, including charging infrastructure, helping to accelerate the electrification of one of the world’s largest ferry networks. Repayment of the investment will come from standard operating revenues comprised of passenger fares and retail revenues.

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The investment is the CIB’s first in zero-emission ferries, which expands its transit portfolio beyond zero-emission buses.

“More zero-emission ferries will have great benefits for the environment and communities nearby, including quieter vessels and lower carbon emissions. This is another step toward Canada meeting its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport.

BC Ferries provides year-round passenger and vehicle ferry services using 37 vessels serving 25 routes out of 47 terminals spread over 1,600 km of B.C. coastline. In fiscal 2024, BCF carried 9.5 million vehicles and 22.6 million passengers on more than 90,000 round trips.

“This partnership between the Canada Infrastructure Bank and BC Ferry Services is an incredible first step towards the electrification of one of the world’s largest ferry networks. Greener transit is a vital part of our work to tackle climate change and the work that CIB is doing to support it will go a long way in helping us reach our goals of net zero emissions by 2050,” said Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities.

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

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