TransLink’s plan to have three SeaBuses crossing the Burrard Inlet by 2011 might be dead in the water because the company has found it’s too pricey to refit the vessels currently in operation, according to TransLink’s official blog.

The newest vessel, the MV Burrard Pacific Breeze — known as “the third SeaBus” — is expected to be in service by December. It was built to help meet the needs of the growing region and the province’s plan to double transit ridership.

Originally, the Breeze was meant to expand the fleet, reducing wait times to 10 minutes from 15. Now, it’s going to be used as a replacement for either the Otter or the Beaver.

According to a post by Jhenifer Pabillano, who runs TransLink’s blog, the company has found that “the extended lifespan of the vessels did not justify the cost of the overhaul.”

“The cost (and risk) of the refits … were far too expensive to justify when compared to the cost of new-builds,” Pabillano wrote in The Buzzer, adding that original estimates missed the mark.

“Our expert’s cost estimates for refitting the two existing vessels were far too low,” Pabillano said. “As a result, we have … cancelled the refit program and turned it into a new-build program.”

Ken Hardie, spokesperson for TransLink, said the only thing standing in the way of the plan to have three SeaBuses is money.

“When we commissioned the third SeaBus to be built, we were going forward on the understanding that we would have three (vessels in service), and that’s still how we want to go forward,” Hardie said.

But the decision is up to the Mayors’ Council and the province, which in October will decide on one of the three 10-year transit-funding plans made public July 30.

The base plan and the first supplement plan allows for two SeaBuses, which would replace the existing two and operate every 15 minutes.

The second supplement plan, which requires $450 million in new funding, calls for two more vessels to be built in addition to the Breeze and operate at 10-minute intervals.

“Like with many of these plans, things tend to change a little bit over time,” Hardie said.

“One way or other, we’ll end up with a fleet of new SeaBuses. It’s just a matter of whether we’ll have two or three.”

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