Ferry Facts May 2016 Update

Representatives of the Ferry Advisory Committees (FAC) from Mayne, Galiano, Pender, Saturna and Salt Spring Islands met with BC Ferry staff on April 5 to review more schedule revisions. The most contentious issue is the Off-Peak Friday PM Route 9 (Tsawwassen/Gulf Islands) schedule. The option presented at the meeting provided some improved service to Salt Spring Island but had a major negative impact on the remaining 4 Islands. Following the meeting, changes were made and 7 new schedules emailed to the FAC members. 6 of the new schedules are equal to or an improvement over existing schedules for Mayne Island. The latest Friday PM Off-Peak Route 9 schedule is an improvement over the April 5 schedule, but is not as good as the one presented on March 3. Arrival on Mayne is 30 minutes later than the current schedule. Considering the difficulty with loading on Friday nights, the Queen of Nanaimo frequently arrives late on busy days. If the new ferries can hold to the schedule, the difference from old to new schedule arrival times may be negligible. Overall, Mayne Island has more positive than negative outcomes from the new schedules. The same cannot be said for Galiano, Pender and Saturna.

Some good news for foot passengers. BC Ferries has announced the expansion of the pilot project for foot passenger reservations. From April 11 to September 5, walk-on Passengers will be allowed to make reservations in both directions for Route 9. The rules are: no fee for reservation, pay at the time of the reservation, can reserve up to 2 hours prior to scheduled sailing time and must check in 30 minutes before the scheduled sailing time. To make a reservation, call 1-888-BC FERRY. This new initiative will be most helpful for those wishing to take the 4:20 pm Sunday afternoon departure from Mayne to Tsawwassen.

Progress regarding the through-fare system in Swartz Bay has stalled. The problem is - how can the system be revised to ensure that travellers to and from the Gulf Islands to Tsawwassen have priority loading on the first available sailing? BC Ferries staff have identified several complications that are difficult to resolve. What appear to FAC members to be simple solutions does not seem to be acceptable to BC Ferries. We are told that staff are actively working on the problem and we will be advised when a solution is found. The next FAC meeting is scheduled for May 9 but there is no guarantee that an answer will be forthcoming.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a new sign located at the bottom of the ferry terminal near Berth 1 which identifies the destination for the ferries leaving from each berth. This should remove any confusion in the minds of foot passengers visiting Mayne Island as to which ferry they must take. Although announcements are made regularly by BC Ferry staff, some travellers do not hear them for a variety of reasons.

The local Ferry Committee advises B C Ferries on fares and schedules. Mayne Island representatives are: David Maude (davemaude@hotmail.com), Diana King (diana@dianaking.ca) and Mike Sywulych 250 539 5274 (p.sywulych@shaw.ca). Ferry Facts is submitted by Mike Sywulych.

posted May 2016

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