Low-emission ferries are coming
Most of our ferries will reach their end of life in the next 10 years. We’re taking this opportunity to modernise and decarbonise our fleet.
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Auckland Transport’s mission is to create a transport future that’s cleaner, quieter, and more comfortable for all. Our target is a 64% reduction in transport-related greenhouse emissions by 2030 and zero by 2050. This means that our public transport buses and ferries are moving to low-emission alternatives, and our rail network is already electric.
Ferries represent 20% of Auckland’s public transport emissions but carry only 6% of passengers. Auckland’s ferries currently burn up to 13 million litres of diesel per year, generating the equivalent of 34,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions. The adoption of electric and electric-hybrid vessels will greatly reduce these emissions.
The Climate Action Transport Targeted Rate (CATTR) sets out over $120 million to support ferry decarbonisation. CATTR will deliver 6 low-emission ferries, associated wharf upgrades, and charging infrastructure.
From diesel-powered to electric and hybrid
Over the next decade, we’ll transition away from diesel-powered ferries to electric, electric-hybrid, and potentially other decarbonised propulsion vessels as technology matures.
We’ll also transition from the current operator-owned model to public ownership, as with our electric trains, creating a more competitive and flexible market for experienced ferry operators.
Some ferry terminal pontoons will be upgraded to accommodate our new vessels, and new charging facilities will be built at key terminals such as Downtown, Hobsonville Point, and Half Moon Bay. These changes will cause some disruption. AT will provide detailed customer communications before beginning the work.
The new ferries
Each new vessel added to our fleet will improve reliability, network resilience, and service capabilities, with increased frequency and more sailings on key routes. We’ve taken customer feedback on board to develop modern, functional layouts and interiors.
New ferries will have:
- increased passenger capacity
- improved accessibility for boarding, debarking and moving around the vessel
- 24 to 28 spaces for prams, bicycles and scooters, depending on vessel layout.
Two fast ferries that will run at a speed of 23 to 25 knots are currently under construction. These fully battery-electric ferries can carry 200 passengers each and include covered storage for up to 24 bikes. The ferries are made from carbon-fibre composite, which is much lighter than aluminium, to offset the weight of batteries and other electrical systems on board.
These lighter vessels can operate with greater efficiency and range, as composite hulls displace less water and last longer.
Designed for inner-harbour and mid-harbour routes, the ferries are expected to launch in late 2024. After vessel commissioning, sea trials, certifications, and crew training, they should begin carrying their first passengers in early 2025.
Two 32-metre electric-hybrid passenger vessels are currently under construction. Fullers360 will operate these ferries, which can carry 300 passengers each and include covered storage for up to 24 bikes. These ferries will primarily service the Devonport to Downtown route.
The first of these vessels is expected to arrive in early 2025 and the second in early 2026. Passenger services will begin once vessel commissioning, sea trials, certifications, and crew training are complete.
Ferry construction details
Australian naval architects Incat Crowther designed our electric hybrid ferries, which are under construction at the Q-West boatbuilding yard in Whanganui. Both hybrid vessels feature HamiltonJet propulsion, energy storage systems, and electrical integration, and Fullers360 is involved in managing the build on behalf of AT.