Once upon a time, SeaBus ferries were painted orange (PHOTOS)

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seabus orange vancouver

There have been major changes to SeaBus over its 37 year history as a vital transportation link between Vancouver and the North Shore municipalities.

But perhaps the most significant visible change was the colour of its exterior livery: the ferries were originally painted hard orange.

Some say it was politically motivated to align with the orange colours of the BC NDP-led provincial government at the time while others claim it was merely a coincidence and designed for harbour safety purposes.

The bright colours remained until 1985, just before the World’s Fair, when BC Transit decided to replace it with a new livery consisting of blanket white with blue and red strips for all of its services. Over the last several years, the livery has taken another change with blanket grey and black and ribbons of blue and yellow.

1976 to 1985: orange
Orange SeaBus
Image: Bill Brooks

1985 to 2009: white
SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

2009 to present: grey and black
SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

On the other hand, when it comes to ferry technology, it has not changed too much. As the original locally-built vessels Burrard Otter and Burrard Beaver have now reached the end of their lifespan, TransLink is in the process of replacing the fleet with near-identical vessels with modernized technology and interiors.

The Burrard Pacific Breeze arrived from Victoria in 2009, just in time for the Olympics, while the Burrard Otter II was shipped from Singapore on a freighter earlier this summer. The Otter II will undergo sea trials before being implemented for revenue service later this fall.

Both the Pacific Breeze and Otter II will replace the existing two 1976-built vessels. The original Otter will be sent to a scrapyard while the Beaver is scheduled to undergo a lifespan renewal refit so that it can be retained and used as the ferry fleet’s spare vessel.

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

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Image: TransLink via Flickr

Local children tour the public transit system during the first annual I Love Transit Camp.

The 400-passenger capacity vessels are diesel powered, can travel at speeds of up to 12 knots, and consist of a bridge with two sets of controls on both ends so that a 180 degree turn is not required after it leaves the terminal.

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

FOK_ 040
Image: TransLink

FOK_ 039
Image: TransLink

FOK_ 052
Image: TransLink

If you have ever wondered how a SeaBus captain knows when to stop when berthing into the dock slip, there is a white marker on the roof of the terminal that indicates when they should stop. When the white marker aligns with the centre of the bridge, that tells the pilot the vessel is properly ‘parked’.

The docks of both terminals are floating barges that ascend and descend with the tides so that it is always at level with the SeaBus doors. Unlike many other passenger ferry systems around the world, no long swing bridges or stair-climbs are required to board and disembark from SeaBus.

SeaBus Burrard Pacific Breeze
Image: Dennis Tsang via Flickr

If there is ever a need to relocate a SeaBus terminal to another location, the dock barges can be easily unhinged from land and floated to a different location.

The half-century old North Vancouver Ferry, a service powered by a fleet of large steamboats, is the predecessor to SeaBus. It met its demise in the late-1950s due to the rapid growth in the use of the automobile.

Currently, SeaBus ridership averages at 23,000 per weekday.

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The Little Ferry: “North Vancouver” Vancouver B.C., between 1900-6 (Photo via Vancouver Archives)

Feature Image: Eric J via Flickr

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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