Halifax has tested fast ferries in the past, but is now on the market for a new design. (CBC)

Halifax's Metro Transit is in the market for a faster ferry — but not the much-discussed fast ferry to Bedford.

Instead, the transit authority is looking for a vessel that could double the speed of the current fleet and improve times on the Woodside-to-Halifax run. It also wants to expand that service beyond peak hours.

Spokeswoman Lori Patterson said the faster ferry could be used for longer routes in the future.

"The current ferries run seven to eight knots across the harbour and the intent is, as we're designing a new ferry, that this would be the prototype for the future as we replace the other ferries that we have," she said Tuesday.

"We're hoping that it will be designed to be able to serve anywhere in the harbour — future routes as well as on existing routes."

Halifax has talked about a fast ferry for a possible Bedford-to-Halifax run in the past, but those plans have been indefinitely shelved.

Metro Transit's call for a new design includes some interesting details, such as a catamaran hull, top speeds of up to 20 knots and capacity for between 150 and 250 people.

The current ferries were designed in 1978 and the last one was built in 1987. Metro Transit wants the new design by January, when it will put the contract out to tender.

It hopes to have the new ferry on the water by 2014.