Translink's "Christmas Present" to Gulf Islands Ferry Travellers

Many people in the Southern Gulf Islands are trying to raise awareness of soon-to-be-implemented changes to the bus schedules for the #620 bus that meets the ferries at Tsawwassen.

Southern Gulf Islands travellers who use public transit to go from Tsawwassen on the morning ferry from the Southern Gulf Islands, Monday to Friday, the new bus transit schedule, beginning Dec. 16th, will be waiting 1 hour and 40 minutes at the ferry terminal.

The ferry from the Gulf Islands arrives at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal at 9:20 am, and passengers have been able to catch a bus at 10:00 am.  Translink has announced the cancellation of this bus. As a consequence, ferry passengers from the Gulf Islands will now have to wait until 11 am for the next bus.

Also, the return #620 bus, Monday through Friday, from Bridgeport Station to Tsawwassen has been rescheduled from 9 am to 9:45 am and now will arrive at the ferry at 10:22 am. However, the ferry will have already departed at 10:10 am. 
So, Gulf Island ferry users will now have to catch the 8 am #620 bus that arrives at the ferry terminal at 8:36 am. They will now have to wait for one hour and 36 minutes before the ferry leaves.

Those who have complained to Translink's Customer Relations have so far received a rather unsatisfactory explanation stating that Translink is "re-allocating resources to try to best meet the passenger demand".

Those who have ever taken those buses will know that they are rarely not packed to the brim with passengers and luggage. Rather than add more buses to meet demand, Translink has decided to shuffle around the buses as a stopgap to serve the passengers coming from Swartz Bay while seriously inconveniencing Gulf Island ferry users.

The Chairs of the Southern Gulf Islands Economic Development Commission and the Salt Spring Island Economic Development Commission have written a strongly worded request directly to the CEO of Translink. Since he can't be reached by email, his address is here for those who would like to write directly to him:

Ian Jarvis
Chief Executive Officer, Translink
400 - 287 Nelson's Court
New Westminster, BC  V3L 0E7

As well, copies should go to some of our political representatives:

Elizabeth May MP:

Gary Holman MLA:

Sheila Malcolmson, Islands Trust Council Chair:

David Howe, CRD Director, Southern Gulf Islands:

LATE BREAKING INFO: A town hall meeting has come together today, in collaboration with Brian Crumblehulme, the Mayne Island Residents & Ratepayers Assoc. and the Mayne Island Community Chamber of Commerce to discuss this issue.

Thursday December 12th, 7:30 pm, at the Ag Hall. Please attend if you can.

Update December 12th: It seems that some combination of customer feedback and behind the scenes requests from some of our political representatives has resulted in Translink reversing it's decision (for now) to cut the 620 bus.

An excerpt from one of the letters received from Translink: "As part of TransLink’s service optimization program, the 620 Tsawwassen service was proposed to be modified to better align transit service with ferry demand and provide increased capacity for the heaviest-used ferry sailings. The proposed change to remove the 10 a.m. bus service has generated many discussions and there was a strong Gulf Island community desire to maintain this service. TransLink listened and has found a solution to continue to meet the needs of Gulf Island customers. The 10 a.m. bus service on its 620 route serving the Tsawwassen ferry terminal will remain in the schedule.

We will continue to monitor the passenger demand levels and performance on this service, as we do with all services and work with stakeholders," ... etc, etc.

As many are saying, now we need to push for better bus service meeting all the ferries (not just at Tsawwassen, in my opinion) and keep this energy going in fighting against the BC Ferry cuts and fare increases.


  1. A petition asking that Translink schedule a (smaller?) express bus that waits precisely for the Gulf Islands boat is in order.

    It would not be a significant expense.

    Most residents of the region would sign such a petition, and if such a bus was available it WOULD be used. Historically, the lack of communication between BC Ferries and Translink has resulted in a loss of ridership already.

    Keep us all posted on your progress, and do consider posting your meeting notes on Active Islands (which has a region wide audience).

  2. There are 2 buses leaving Tsawwassen Terminal at a) 7am and b)7:25am.....but no Swartz Bay Ferries arrive until 8:40...!
    Why's that, Translink?

  3. Late breaking update... Gary (our MLA) has asked Translink to delay the change and meet with stake holders. I'm not yet aware of Translink's response.

    See update here and keep the pressure on cc:ing Gary. We need to push for a bus that sits and waits for the Gulf Island Ferry. There's no reason for it not to be there, waiting for us.

  4. In the event that the 620 service stays put (as has been rumoured!) I would encourage this meeting to still take place, and for folks to discuss the possibility of pushing for our own bus. Route #666 would be an express bus that waits for the Gulf Islands Ferry. (It would also fill with off cycle Route 2 and Duke Point folk!)

  5. I agree Christian, although I'm not sure route #666 would be good PR for the Gulf Islands. :-) Many in other areas of BC already think of the residents of our communities as being on the "Infidel Atheist" side of things.