CFA in the News: Voice of Canada's Ferry Operators

International Cruise and Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2016

Serge Buy is CEO of the Canadian Ferry Association CFA). He tells ICFR about his organisation’s plans for the future.

As a national industry body, CFA serves Canada’s ferry industry in many ways, from protecting lifeline services to providing a forum for operators to discuss the challenges facing them.

Please tell us about the history and current activities of the CFA and your own role within it.

Ferries have been an integral part of Canada’s transportation system since before this country was founded. From indigenous people using canoes to transport goods and people to the large vessels docking in major ports throughout the country, ferries are a lifeline for many Canadians. CFA is the voice of the ferry sector in Canada, representing more than 85% of the ferry traffic (passenger and vehicle) in Canada.

We host an annual conference that brings together ferry operators, suppliers and other stakeholders to discuss issues relevant to our sector. On our members’ behalf, we advocate for various changes in regulations and legislation.

What are the main challenges facing the ferry sector in Canada, and how does your organisation address them?

Our goal is to ensure that policy makers understand and recognise the role that the ferry sector plays in the daily life of many Canadians, and that this is reflected in future policy decisions. Annually, ferries in Canada transport more than 55 million passengers and 19 million vehicles, bringing people to work, students to school, tourists to their destinations and goods to market. They are an integral part of Canada’s transportation system.

CFA annually publishes Keeping Canada Moving, a comprehensive analysis of the ferry sector in Canada. The latest results from this survey are published on our website.

How does CFA work with national, provincial and local government representatives to promote the interests of the ferry sector?

As a national organisation, we liaise with officials (both elected and bureaucratic) on a regular basis. As many ferries are operated by provincial and municipal governments, they are members of CFA (many, in fact, are members of our Board of Directors). We regularly work with them on issues.

How is the Canadian fleet changing to adapt to stricter global environmental targets?

Increasingly, we are seeing the role that new technologies can play in helping to lower emissions. We are seeing that more and more ferry operators are embracing these new technologies when updating their fleets. This includes dual fuels, battery power and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The theme of our most recent conference (September 2015 in Vancouver, BC) was ‘Cutting Edge: New Technologies in the Ferry Sector’. Delegates heard from experts with ideas about how new technologies can improve ferry service.

What trends are you seeing in orders for newbuilds, and what role do you see for Canadian shipyards in delivering new vessels in the coming years?

Over the next 5 years, ferry operators in Canada will be investing more than CAD$1.5 billion to update and renew their fleets. For many, this will mean going through the RFP and tendering process to determine which shipyard is the best fit. With new trade agreements being signed with the European Union, Korea and other nations, this will make it more affordable for operators to look to international shipyards when renewing their fleets. CFA endeavours to post RFPs for all sector-related tenders in the members’ section of our website.

Can you give us an idea of the key topics that will be addressed at your next annual conference in Ottawa in September?

Our conference theme is Accessibility in the Ferry Sector. Delegates can expect to get updated on issues related to making vessels as accessible as possible. This includes design and implementation of accessibility items (such as ramps for wheelchairs), as well as different services offered for people with disabilities. Our 2016 conference strives to show ferry operators how to make their vessels more accessible.

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