BC Ferries

Following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed and troubled projects from around the world.

BC Ferries – Government of British Columbia – Canada
Project : Fast ferries
Project type : Design, build, deploy high speed ferries
Date : Jun 2002   Cost :$460M CAD

Synopsis :
Driven in part by congestion problems being experienced at one of the main ferry terminals in Vancouver British Columbia, the government of British Columbia decided that a new fleet of high-speed car/passenger ferries was needed to speed up transportation between the Canadian mainland and Vancouver Island.  Built locally a fleet of 3 aluminum hulled craft were built at a cost of $460M (the original budget had been $210M).  Sadly once delivered it was found that the craft were unable to use their higher cruising speed because of the effect the wake had on the shoreline.  The craft were also unreliable and had trouble dealing with flotsam found in the local waters.  After just a few months in service the complete fleet was withdrawn from service.  The boats were auctioned off a few years later for just $19M.  Even the auction process is said to have been flawed as other bidders were reported to be willing to pay up to $88M for the fleet.

Contributing factors as reported in the press:
Political decision makers refused to listen to those who had the technical knowledge.  Political goals outweighed technical considerations.  Lack of cost controls. Lack of Project Management discipline.  Lack of project governance.  Overly complex governance structure.  Poor internal communications

Reference links :

  1. Fast Ferry Scandal
  2. 1999 Auditors report hinting at the problems to come
  3. Select committee report – 2000