SeaBus fleet grows for Olympics, but won't last
Published Wednesday, December 23, 2009 5:45PM PST
The newest member of the SeaBus fleet took its maiden voyage Wednesday across Burrard Inlet, connecting passengers between downtown Vancouver and the North Shore.
The MV Burrard Pacific Breeze joins the MV Burrard Otter and MV Burrard Beaver, providing extra service during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
But after the Games are over, the three-ferry operation will be reduced again to two.
One of the two older vessels - which are more than 30 years old -- will be retired, and the other one will be upgraded, officials say.
TransLink's original plan was to have three SeaBus ferries in operation by 2011 but that idea has been shelved for now due to lack of funding.
Richard Walton, mayor of North Vancouver, told CTV News Wednesday he's disappointed. Having three ferries would've meant service every 10 minutes instead of the current 15 minutes.
"We were under the understanding for the last decade we would have three SeaBuses functioning," he said. "It's of a concern for all of us. Local politicians are going to make sure this stays on the radar for a long time."
The province says it needs to see much higher ridership before committing a third ship to the route.
Based on current numbers, there really isn't much of a need for a third vessel, said Denis Clements, president and CEO of Coast Mountain Bus Company, which operates SeaBus.
It's rare, he said, that the two-boat capacity can't meet demand.
Still, TransLink says if funding comes through, a new SeaBus will be built to replace the retired ferry.
The SeaBus unveiled Wednesday cost $25 million. The federal and provincial governments each contributed $5 million to the project, and TransLink funded the rest.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen