WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. - The federal government is committing $5.6 million to improve security on B.C.'s ferry system leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games.

The money will be spent to cover added surveillance equipment, fencing, lighting, communications gear and training for the coastal ferry system and Seabus passenger ferries, says North Vancouver MP Andrew Saxton.

The infusion of cash is the final part of the government's five-year, $115 million marine security program.

The money will go to BC Ferries and the Coast Mountain Bus Co., which runs the Seabus.

Most of the cash will be used for upgrades at the major ferry terminals in Nanaimo, Victoria and West Vancouver. The rest of the fund will be used to upgrade Seabus terminals in downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver.

"In addition to enhancing security of ferry workers and their users, this investment will also encourage trade and tourism and will create a strong foundation for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics," says Saxton.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall confirms the security upgrades have already begun, and the government will reimburse them for the work once it is complete.

The company dealt with at least two bomb threats last year, including an incident in July 2007 that cancelled 21 sailings and stranded thousands of passengers.

Only a few months earlier, Transport Canada gave the Ferry Corporation $3.9 million to increase security on ships and ports, but Marshall says these funds were mostly allocated for perimeter security and new fencing.

Ships sail between Tsawwassen, B.C. and Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island almost hourly. Larger vessels carry up to 470 vehicles and 2,100 passengers.

With files from The Canadian Press