Editorial: Long ferries weekend

Editorial

Tuesday, May 23 2017

Another May Long Weekend come and gone.

Two lessons for BC Ferries to learn from this past long weekend.

The first: The 1:50 sailing from Gabriola and 2:25 sailing from Nanaimo should not be cancelled on the Saturday and Sunday of the May Long Weekend. People leaving and coming to Gabriola are left with massive lineups to get on the 3:05 and 3:45 sailings. 

This coming summer, BCF will again bring back the pilot program, and will allow the 1:50 and 2:25 sailings to run on every Saturday and Sunday in July and August. BCF staff have said they are not willing to extend the pilot program to include May, June, or September.

No one is sure why not. Every long weekend in BC, the same company sends out press releases and service notices announcing it has added sailings to the major routes to accommodate the inevitable increase in traffic.

To not recognize, and deal with, a similar increase in traffic just because Gabriola is a minor route is confusing.

And likely costs BCF and Gabriola potential customers.

It’s not like the Saturday and Sunday are even the statutory holiday part of BCF’s labour cost.

Even if it’s not for every weekend in May or June, surely a weekend like May Long would merit such an exception.

The second lesson: BC Ferries needs to take responsibility for the behaviour of the potential passengers on the Quinsam - and put up a sign telling people to use the entire turnaround to join the ferry lineup on Taylor Bay Road. After watching a number of vehicles this weekend make a u-turn, the drivers of those vehicles were spoken to. The majority of them were first-time visitors to Gabriola, and said they had no idea the turnaround was there for the lineup. The BC Ferries sign at the junction of Taylor Bay and ferry hill simply says traffic should join the lineup on Taylor Bay Road. There’s no signage to tell visitors (and remind locals) to use the turnaround. 

BC Ferries claims it is the responsibility of the Transportation Ministry to put up signs outside of the BCF terminal. Even if the signs are for ferry traffic.

That’s likely true.

But the traffic wouldn’t be making those illegal - and dangerous - u-turns if drivers weren’t trying to get in the ferry lineup.

One might consider BC Ferries has the legal responsibility to ensure ferry passengers safety is assured when joining the lineup.

We’re not talking a major cost here either. One sign. Simple message. “To join ferry lineup, do not make u-turn. Please follow the turnaround to the stop sign.”

Weekend sailings restored on May Long Weekend.

Proper signage for our visitors and locals to help with passenger safety.

These are, from the outside, easy fixes for BCF to put in place for their customers.