Successful pilot could see summer sailings added permanently

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 2 2017

If this year’s summer months show the kind of ferry traffic as last year, Gabriola may get to keep the bonus weekend sailings which were inserted back into the schedule as a pilot program in 2016 and 2017.

At the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting last week, Peter Simpson, BC Ferries Director of Fleet Operational Strategy, said that there is good indication the pilot program could become a more permanent extension.

This summer will be year two of a two-year pilot program to keep running the 1:50 and 2:25 sailings on Saturdays and Sundays.

Simpson said that so far, in looking at the data from 2016, there don’t appear to be any negative effects on the route that would keep the sailings from running in the summer months.

Asked by FAC members if he thought there could be justification for opening the program or including the sailing expansion to months before and after the summer, Simpson said there is not data to support that kind of expansion.

This pilot program is, as BCF staff reminded FAC members, running outside of what BC Ferries is required to provide through the Coastal Ferry Act for sailings on the route.

The decision to keep the sailings on permanently will need to be made prior to the fall meeting of the Gabriola FAC with BC Ferries. As a result, BCF will be having discussiones with the FAC earlier in the year to discuss whether the sailings will remain for summer 2018.