HALIFAX -- The Halifax Regional Municipality is getting a new ferry route that will run from Bedford, N.S. to downtown Halifax and will be the first zero-emission ferry in Nova Scotia.

The provincial and federal governments announced Thursday its contributing $3.3 million towards a study that will explore technology options for an electric ferry.

The Nova Scotia government is investing more than $1.1 million for the initial planning phase of the ferry, while federal contributions are $1.3 million. Halifax Regional Municipality is investing $917,000.

The Mill Cove ferry route will depart from a new net-zero energy efficient building in Bedford.

"Getting moving on this long-anticipated ferry project will open up Halifax Harbour in new ways to more people, creating exciting opportunities for communities to connect while helping residents green their commute," Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said in a news release.

Kelsey Lane from the Ecology Action Centre said a potential energy efficient ferry would help create a more green community.

“If it's electric, it provides more affordable options,” said Lane. “And it's a wonderful way to get to where you want to go. It’s exactly the kind of project we are looking for.”

Once operational, the new ferry will mark the third route operated by Halifax Transit. It also has routes that run from downtown Halifax to Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, as well as Halifax to Woodside. 

Beverly Morrison who lives in the area, said a new ferry would be good news for seniors.

"They can't get to places and that would be awesome for them to get to Halifax instead of travelling by bus,” said Morrison

The first phase of the project will look at a concept design for the new Bedford terminal, along with the retrofit design of the current Halifax terminal. Both are expected to be completed in early 2022.

Detailed design and construction will begin following phase one.

"As the municipality continues to grow, so does the need for a faster and better-connected transit network. Connecting Bedford to downtown Halifax by this new ferry route is an integral step that will improve transit services in an environmentally friendly way." Dave Reage, executive director, Halifax Transit, said in a news release.

The zero-emission project is part of the province's climate change strategy.

"Transitioning away from diesel ferries is part of the electrification of public transit systems, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and will help us toward our target of cutting emissions to 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030," Kelly Regan, minister of community services, said in a release.