When Washington’s Skagit County hired Glosten to design a new ferry to replace the 40-year-old M/V Guemes, they made sustainability a priority. The new Guemes Island ferry features a battery-electric propulsion system that significantly reduces emissions and operational costs.
A Replacement with Staying Power
Residents and visitors rely on the M/V Guemes as the only means of transportation to and from Guemes Island. A suitable replacement is needed to serve Skagit County for another four decades or more and meet whatever challenges might face a small vessel operator in that time. Glosten was engaged to help the County plan accordingly by comparing propulsion options, estimating capacity, and assessing costs while balancing the interests of local stakeholders.
Leading the Charge
The new Guemes Island ferry design relies on an all-electric propulsion system, making it one of the first vessels of its kind in the United States. The vessel will see a 50% reduction in operational costs compared to its diesel-propelled predecessor and produce virtually zero emissions during its 5/8-mile crossing. Glosten analyzed the route, terminals, and utility infrastructure and found that charging once during each round trip was feasible, reliable, and minimized the cost of the project.
Prioritizing Passenger Safety
The replacement ferry is double-ended with a three-tiered deckhouse and can accommodate four lanes of vehicles including highway-rated trucks and emergency vehicles. Challenges associated with mixing cars and passengers were addressed by keeping walk-on passengers and vehicles separated throughout the trip; this also improves schedule efficiency by eliminating delays during the switch between car and passenger loading. In addition, the battery-electric propulsion system will significantly reduce vessel noise production, which means that passengers can enjoy a quieter commute.
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