A fleet of fast, electric ferries is launching in India.
It’s a big deal for the populous city of Kochi, as officials there work to reduce dirty air and traffic congestion. The fleet was unveiled on April 25 with much fanfare.
“Kochi Water Metro is all set for launch, making it India’s [first] water metro service … Plus, with electric-hybrid boats, it’s eco-friendly too!” P. Rajeev (@PRajeevOfficial), India’s Minister for Law, Industries, and Coir (coconut fiber) for the state of Kerala, where Kochi is located, said on Twitter.
Kochi Water Metro is all set for launch, making it India's 1st water metro service. Upon completion the project having 76km length, 10 island connections & 38 jetties, is sure to revolutionize transport & tourism in the area. Plus, with electric-hybrid boats, its ecofriendly too! pic.twitter.com/L7Np9Wxv7K— P Rajeev (@PRajeevOfficial) April 23, 2023
The system will have up to 15 routes with 78 “fast, electrically propelled hybrid ferries,” the Kochi Water Metro website reports. The fleet will carry people — between 50 and 100 per boat — on more than 47 miles of waterways connecting 10 islands. Officials estimate the fleet will benefit a million islanders.
There are several charging stations that can power up a ferry in less than 15 minutes, the officials noted. The catamarans can travel up to eight knots under battery power, or about 9.2 miles per hour.
The boats are part of a transportation initiative in India geared to maximize the latest technology, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Kerala has a lot to offer to the country and the world. I am sure this experiment being done in Kerala will become a model for other states of the country, as well,” Modi told CNN.
This may be the first electric vehicle (EV) ferry system in India. However, there are other examples of similar boats using clean energy.
The San Francisco Bay Ferry’s Sea Change is a hydrogen-powered vessel. It’s part of the city’s move to replace dirty energy-based ferries with better boats by 2035.
A world away in India, Kochi officials expect their EV fleet to help avoid emissions of more than 16,550 metric tons (about 18,243 tons) of air pollutants per year by 2035 (by avoiding burning other fuels). That estimate factors in fewer gas-powered cars, motorbikes, and buses due to more people hopping on the EV ferries.
In a tweet on the day the fleet was showcased, Rajeev called it the Kerala government’s “dream project.” The video he posted shows three vessels embarking on the water with Kochi city as the backdrop.
“[M]aking history in Kerala’s transport [and] tourism with state-of-the-art features to revolutionize the way we commute,” Rajeev added.
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