Harbour authority eyes green and effective shuttle options

Water ferries may present new option for cruise passengers

Cruise ship passengers disembarking at Ogden Point may get to choose from new, greener means of getting to downtown Victoria.

A contract between the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and CVS Cruise Victoria, whose coach-size buses shuttle cruise travellers between the cruise terminal and downtown Victoria, will expire March 31, 2013.

The harbour authority is researching its options before it issues a request-for-proposals for exclusive shuttle rights at the end of the year, or in early 2012, said Curtis Grad, CEO of the harbour authority.

Through a request-for-information process in April, a water ferry service was also identified as one new idea to shuttle passengers to the Inner Harbour.

“It has to go through a feasibility review, but if it makes sense to be able to transport people from Ogden Point to the Inner Harbour by water, and people find that interesting and attractive, it could be another option as well,” Grad said, adding that a ferry service provider would need to operate boats that can handle rough, open water.

“And it depends on how it’s packaged, as well,” he said. “Does it get you from Ogden Point somwhere to some point in the Inner Harbour, or is it also a harbour tour, for example?”

Noise, air quality and traffic congestion will be considered by the harbour authority in its selection process.

The James Bay community has steadfastly championed the need for improved air quality at Ogden Point, pointing to the cruise ships and ground transportation services as the culprits. Other transportation providers at the terminal include taxis, pedicabs, limousines, horse-drawn carriages and tour buses.

“So it’s a win-win – not being so reliant on the buses, that’s the key,” said Grad.

CVS Cruise shuttle buses are powered with 100 per cent bio fuel.

The key to choosing the right service will be a “balance between green and effective,” said Grad. “You can have things that are green, but if they only haul two or three people, they may not meet the market.”