FAC requests BC Ferries restore early sailings

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, April 10 2019


Steve Earle, Chair of the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) provided a statement saying the FAC has requested BC Ferries bring back the early morning (5:15am and 5:55am) sailings for the Gabriola Ferry.

This comes as a result of the February 22 announcement from the provincial NDP government’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that it would be buying back sailings cut from schedules by the BC Liberal government in 2014.

While Gabriola will not see a complete return to the 2014 schedule, there were opportunities for additional sailings.

Regardless of any other decision, the weekend sailings (1:50 and 2:25pm) will be restored year round.

Earle said on the Gabriola route, the FAC was first offered just one choice - the restoration of early morning sailings. 

He explained the FAC members requested the alternative of restoring sailings in the mid-evening gap, and then Gabriolans were asked to choose between the two options. 

The results of that public survey were, according to Earle, “almost exactly evenly split. So the final decision has had to be made by FAC members, knowing that just about half of Gabriolans would not get what they wanted.”

He said in the meantime, the FAC members realized the early morning option did not guarantee getting onto the first sailing out of Departure Bay, which made it difficult for people starting a 7am shift in Nanaimo and was sufficiently tight to create a high risk of the Quinsam getting behind schedule early in the day. 

“We asked BC Ferries three times to make some changes, and they finally agreed to have the first two sailings of the early morning option leave 10 minutes earlier than first proposed.”

The 10 members of the FAC have now agreed (by a margin of nine to one) that the best option for Gabriola is to restore the early sailings.

Earle said, “However, the FAC takes the feedback we received from the community about the mid-evening gap very seriously, and we will make it a top priority to work with BC Ferries to make changes to the evening schedule so that the gap between the 7:15pm and 9pm departures from Nanaimo can be reduced.

“We believe that slight alterations to the schedule could improve on-time performance and simultaneously provide better service for those who expressed such clear disappointment with the evening gap. 

“We will also work to ensure that that the evening gap is eliminated when the schedule is revised for the two new Island 47 ferries and will advocate for changes to be made to the weekend schedules so that they match the new weekday schedules.”

The revised schedule is expected come into effect on April 27th. 

As of that date the two mid-afternoon weekend sailings (13:50 and 14:25) will also be restored throughout the year.

Those sailings will also be restored for April 20 and 21 over the Easter weekend.