Today, a new City of Toronto staff report is recommending a plan to replace Toronto’s current, aging fleet of ferry vessels with fully electric vessels. The report will be considered by the General Government and Licensing Committee (GGLC) on January 14.
This shift to full electrification supports the City’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy and commitment to accelerate climate action to achieve net zero city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. In particular, this initiative aligns with the target of transitioning 20 per cent of the City fleet to zero emissions by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030.
The report recommends a plan to replace four existing primary ferry vessels over a 15-year period. The initial ferry replacement strategy proposed a hybrid diesel-electric technology.
Full electrification of the vessel fleet is estimated to reduce 2,800 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually, which is equivalent to removing 600 cars from the road every year. In addition, displacing diesel fumes, which contribute to air and noise pollution, will provide an improved ridership experience for those visiting Toronto Island.
Toronto Island Park is served by a ferry fleet of four primary vessels and one heritage vessel, which together transport over 1.4 million passengers and 5,000 vehicles annually to Toronto’s largest park. Although well-maintained, the vessels are between 50 to 100 years old, well beyond the industry average lifespan for similar ferries.
The report, submitted by City staff in Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR), recommends an increase in funding for the additional design and construction of support services required to advance a fully electric design for the ferries and the required shore-side infrastructure. This change, once the full fleet is replaced, will lead to annual savings of up to $1.1 million, according to the report. The projected payback on full electrification would be within 20 years.
The City’s commitment to TransformTO combined with comparable costing for both vessel types, evolving industry trends and available technologies, fleet replacement approaches being undertaken in other jurisdictions and long-term operational savings (fuel cost savings in particular), all reinforce the upfront transition to fully electric ferries.
Although further cost estimates will be undertaken as the project advances, current estimates for the completed designs range between $23 and $25 million per vessel. The cost for the fully electric vessels is comparable to hybrid vessels and they will have increased passenger capacity. Additional costs for shore-side infrastructure will be required.
“I support the full electrification of our future ferry fleet. This is the right thing to do for the environment and it is an investment that will ultimately save the City government money. This is one example of how we are successfully implementing the City’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy and honouring our commitment to accelerate climate action to achieve net zero city-wide greenhouse gas emissions.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Our investment payback on electrifying a replacement fleet, based on fuel cost savings alone, is estimated to be $1.1 million annually once the full electrification of the fleet is complete. This positive assessment shouldn’t shock anyone that electrification is the best ferry fleet consideration.”
– Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough-Guildwood), Chair of the General Government and Licensing Committee
“Full electrification of Toronto’s ferry fleet is an innovative way to help our city achieve its net-zero goals, while improving the experience of riders.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
“The Toronto Islands are beloved by residents and visitors alike. Transitioning to an electric ferry fleet will best maintain the environmental health of Toronto Island Park for the 1.4 million passengers who annually use these ferries to enjoy Toronto’s largest downtown park.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York)
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