Ferry Facts Update July 2016

On Monday May 30th, the Southern Gulf Islands Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) met in Sidney for the first of two meetings to be held in 2016. We discussed a wide range of issues, the most significant of which was the ferry schedule that will be introduced with the spring 2017 launch of the new vessels serving the Gulf Islands.

Although other islands have not fared as well, we believe that for the most part, Mayne Islanders will be satisfied with the new schedule. Some sailings will depart earlier than we’re accustomed to and others will depart later. But there aren’t many changes to our current ferry schedule.

We remain concerned about Friday night off-peak sailings from Village Bay to Tsawwassen and from Tsawwassen to Village Bay. The former involves using Sturdies Bay as the transfer point for passengers and vehicles from Mayne, Pender and Saturna — a convergence that could cause significant congestion, which BC Ferries will monitor. The latter involves a later departure from Tsawwassen and therefore a later arrival at Village Bay.

There is a week-day plus for Mayne Islanders though. The Off Peak and Shoulder mid-morning Swartz Bay ferry that currently comes to Mayne via Galiano, will sail directly to Mayne and then go to Galiano. More detailed information about the new schedules will soon be available on the BC Ferries website.

BC Ferries reps talked about what they'd learned from the public consultation process (that preceded the development of the new schedule) and what they would do differently the next time they solicit community input. They also discussed BC Ferries’ plans to expand its Tsawwassen based thru-fare pilot to include traffic going from the Southern Gulf Islands to Tsawwassen. There are a few things yet to be ironed out but once they are, this should be a welcome alternative — particularly for Pender and Saturna residents and visitors. As well, BC Ferries confirmed that soon they will announce the Southern Gulf Island/Salt Spring Island thru-fare rate via Swartz Bay.

Gulf Island representatives brought up a number of issues, including the need to continue producing printed schedules; the need for a sign at Village Bay Terminal to identify Mayne Island by name; the advantages of a more streamlined process for foot passengers to get through Tsawwassen terminal (e.g. a separate queue); clarification of the foot passenger reservations program in terms of how many reservations are taken for any given sailing; improving TransLink bus services at Tsawwassen terminal; and enhancements that could be made if BC Ferries’ customer service representatives had more information (regarding alternative travel options) at their finger-tips and BC Ferries’ website underwent upgrades to reflect those alternatives.

Mayne Island’s David Maude has agreed to serve as co-chair of the FAC committee, which is scheduled to meet again in November.

The FAC 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.

For further information please contact Mike Sywulych p.sywulych@shaw.ca.

posted July 2016

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