A Damen Fast Ferry 3209. BC Ferries are considering buying five of the vessels. (Courtesy of Damen)

BC Ferries considers passenger only ferry between West Shore and Victoria

Royal Bay, Esquimalt and Ship Point considered as part of study into new route

BC Ferries could service a new route between the West Shore and downtown Victoria.

A pre-feasibility study from SNC Lavalin weighs the benefits and costs of a new high-speed service between the West Shore and downtown Victoria.

The West Shore has become increasingly clogged with traffic jams, and residents and administrators have called for an alternative mode of transport.

According to the report, the solution could be a fast-catamaran BC ferry travelling between the West Shore, Esquimalt and downtown Victoria.

The report investigates three possible BC ferry terminals at Royal Bay, Esquimalt and Ship Point.

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The Royal Bay terminal would be located at an old quarry site which would have space for 250 vehicles, areas for bus stops and a covered passenger waiting area.

A terminal in Esquimalt is discussed and then rejected for economic reasons, such as the the need for a pricey breakwater and only reaching 0.8 per cent increases in passenger demand.

Ship Point is the downtown Victoria option and would need two berths on either side of its wharf. It also calls for investment to pay for a new passenger shelter area.

Passenger demand is forecast to hit 2.7 per cent a year from Royal Bay to Ship’s Point.

Austel and Damen ferries were considered, but the report prefers the high-speed Damen Fast Ferry 3209, which is a catamaran ferry that can accommodate 294 passengers and travel at 25 knots, even in high seas.

Although the report offers different price options, it recommends BC Ferries charge $5.75.

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The cost estimate, which includes a route to Esquimalt as well as a terminal there, is $41,600,000.

The total cost including five Damen Fast Ferry 3209s, is $95,600,000.

A staff of four people per ferry would be likely, although an option of two is explored in the report. With each vessel containing four crew members, total labour costs would come in at approximately $7 million a year.

The report explores scheduling ferries every 40 minutes during peak periods in the morning and in the evening, as well as making them travel at a faster speed.

BC Ferries says it has not made any decisions and is still considering all options. They received the 201 page report in the first week of March and have held meetings to discuss it.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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