Toronto City Airport ferry to be converted to electric power by end of 2020

Dec. 5, 2019
The retrofit project will make the passenger and vehicle ferry the first in Canada to be fully powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Travelers to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will soon have the option of taking Canada’s first 100 percent electric lithium-ion-powered ferry following a retrofit project to convert the airport’s Marilyn Bill I ferry to electric power.

PortsToronto, which owns and operates the airport and ferry, anticipates the ferry’s retrofit will be finished by the end of 2020. The conversion to electric power is part of PortsToronto’s sustainability program, which took a phased approach to greening the ferry’s operations. The Marilyn Bell I was converted from diesel to biofuel in 2018, which delivered a reduction of 20 metric tons in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions last year. Following the ferry’s electric conversion, the GHG emissions are expected to be reduced by 530 metric tons.

“The retrofitting of the Marilyn Bell I to electric power clearly demonstrates how we can build a clean and efficient transportation system, create good jobs and protect the environment,” said Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau. “The government of Canada commends PortsToronto for this initiative that will benefit Toronto communities and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Marine electrical engineering firm Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL) are the prime designers for this project. the project naval architect is Concept Naval and PortsToronto has also engaged Nova Scotia-based E.Y.E marine consultants to assist with the implementation of the project. The electricity to power the ferry will be supplied by Bullfrog Power®.

“Converting the Billy Bishop Airport ferry to electric power is a clear indication of how serious we are in our commitment to the environment and maintaining balanced operations with the waterfront community in which we operate,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, PortsToronto. “We are proud to invest in leading-edge, sustainable transportation infrastructure that will reduce PortsToronto’s overall emissions, which is a significant step toward our organization’s environmental objectives and in support of the Canadian Government’s 2030 emission reduction target.”

The project is expected to cost approximately C$2.9 million (US$2.2 million), which will be funded by PortsToronto through the Airport Improvement Fee.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.