BC Ferries eliminating weekend gap in Gabriola schedule from May Long to Labour Day

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, March 20 2018

BC Ferries is adding the extra weekend sailings into the Gabriola schedule for most of May and June this year.

Starting with the May Long Weekend, and until Labour Day (September 3), BC Ferries will be running the 1:50pm and 2:25pm sailings on the Gabriola route on weekends.

This was a request made by the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) to BC Ferries, after BCF ran a two-year pilot project running the weekend sailings during the months of July and August.

BC Ferries announced in 2017 at the end of that pilot that it would continue to include those sailings on Saturdays and Sundays in July and August going forward; the FAC had asked that May and June also be covered.

Steve Earle, Chair of the Gabriola FAC, said, “the FAC is pleased that BC Ferries has been listening to us, and that the early-afternoon weekend sailings will be available from May through September, and on long weekends both before and after that. We will continue to push for those sailings to be reinstated throughout the year.”

Jason Twells, Supervisor for BC Ambulance Service Central Island District including the Gabriola station, said having those weekend sailings restored, “will definitely make a difference for those patients requiring an urgent transport over Nanaimo, and reducing the delay if there are additional responses on the island.”

Passengers required to have Boarding Pass

Over the past week, BC Ferries has implemented a requirement for all walk-on passengers to present a boarding pass at the Nanaimo Harbour terminal to board the ferry to Gabriola.

Darin Guenette, Public Affairs Manager with BC Ferries said, “An internal audit was conducted last fall, which found that we were not issuing/collecting foot passenger boarding passes appropriately. With this new procedure, we are now in alignment with other staffed, minor terminals.

“By not utilizing boarding passes we faced an added risk of incorrect passenger counts, potential fare evasion, and difficulties in ensuring terminal security.”

The issue had been raised at the 2017 fall FAC meeting, but no timeline had been given then on when BC Ferries might put the walk-on boarding passes system in place.

Fare changes are
coming for April 1

As for the fare changes announced by the Province to come into effect on April 1, details have not been finalized by BC Ferries, but the ferry corporation is confirming it will have reductions in place.

Darin Guenette, Public Affairs Manager for BC Ferries said there will be a release issued prior to April 1 with the confirmed reductions.

“We have not quite yet finalized every single detail for fleet wide numbers.”

He said for those trying to budget for after April 1, it is safe to assume one can: 

- Reduce all current fares (vehicle, passenger, regular and Experience Card…) by 15% (as promised by the Province) to get what will be very close for the new fares, However, there may be rounding of numbers involved, so the exact amounts may differ slightly.

- The seniors’ (Mon-Thurs) discount for passenger fare will increase from 50% to 100% on April 1. (Meaning seniors travel for free Monday to Thursday, though this does not include a vehicle fare, only the passenger fare)