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Black Cat retains Diamond Harbour ferry contract

Published 21/05/2020




Black Cat Cruises has been awarded the contract for the Diamond Harbour ferry service for the next 12 years, completing our public transport procurement process.

This follows the signing of new contracts for bus services in February 2020. Transport portfolio lead Councillor Phil Clearwater said that we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with incumbent local operator Black Cat.

"Black Cat's many years of experience and local knowledge will be invaluable as we work together to explore opportunities for a new, low-emission vessel," he said.

Investigating options for a new ferry

"The current ferry is nearing end of life, so as we investigate options for a new vessel, top of mind will be our community's desire for a low-emission public transport fleet, something we heard resoundingly through our Regional Public Transport Plan consultation," said Councillor Clearwater.

"Over the next two years, we will work alongside Black Cat to make an informed decision on the propulsion system of a new ferry. This will include closely watching the results of other electric ferry implementations as they progress, as well as engaging with local Canterbury boat builders."

New contract highlights

The new contract allows for essential maintenance work to be undertaken on the current ferry so it can continue operating for the next few years, while plans and costs for a new vessel are finalised. At this stage, the aim is to have a new vessel in operation for the third year of the contract.

Councillor Clearwater said the contract period has been extended from nine years to 12 years and will commence from November this year.

"The first two years will see the contract price remain as it is now, except to accommodate the critical maintenance work on the current vessel. The remaining 10 years will reflect the new vessel build and running costs. The feasibility work done so far indicates that the cost of an electric vessel could be similar to a diesel-powered vessel, so if we can be confident that an electric vessel can meet the requirements of the service then we will commission one."

The completion of the new ferry contract brings the total price of the public transport contracts package to $62.6 million.