BC Ferries implements temporary service changes to Southern Gulf Islands due to staffing challenges

BC Ferries implements temporary service changes to Southern Gulf Islands due to staffing challenges
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BC Ferries has implemented temporary service changes on routes that connect the Southern Gulf Islands communities as a result of anticipated staffing challenges in the months ahead.

BC Ferries says that these temporary service adjustments will be implemented on the Swartz Bay – Southern Gulf Islands and the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands routes beginning on January 17 and lasting until February 3.

All passengers are being encouraged to check the company’s online schedules page ahead of sailing in order to receive the most up-to-date information.

BC Ferries notes that every effort will be made to accommodate customers with impacted bookings on an alternate sailing, otherwise a refund will be given.

BC Ferries says that customers with affected bookings who would like to change or rebook should contact our Customer Service Centre for assistance by calling us at 1-888-223-3779 ext. 0.

Impacted customers on the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route can also travel thru fare, with a connection at Swartz Bay.

“Customers travelling between January 17 and February 3 can make a reservation on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay leg of their journey, and will be reimbursed for the reservation fee when they check-in at Swartz Bay for their final destination,” reads a statement from BC Ferries.

“To be reimbursed, advise the ticket agent on initial check-in of your reservation and of your final destination, and please retain your booking redemption receipt and thru fare voucher.”

More information about thru fare travel can be found online here.

Dan McIntosh, a spokesperson with BC Ferries, anticipates possible other schedule changes in the coming months, suggesting several factors could lead to sailing cancellations on some routes, including employees being sick with COVID-19, seasonal cold and flu or severe winter storms.

Four sailings were already cancelled this weekend on the Queen of Cowichan between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo due to staffing issues.

McIntosh says some sailings can still go ahead even when there’s a shortage of employees but that depends on whether that’s the captain, engineers or a cook.

He says fewer kitchen staff may mean less cafeteria service, but a ferry can’t sail without key staff.

McIntosh says BC Ferries has contingency plans in place as requested by the provincial health officer to deal with a rise in absenteeism as the Omicron variant sweeps through the province, and that includes cross-training staff to do other duties or deploying them to different locations.


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