WATCH: Travel trouble at BC Ferries raises questions about the Tsawwassen terminal and issues during high winds. Tess van Straaten reports.
Things are almost back to normal at BC Ferries, after a perfect storm of problems.
“It was an extremely unusual situation and we certainly apologize to our customers that were affected,” says BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.
Vehicles were backed up all the way down the Pat Bay Highway in North Saanich after high winds cancelled numerous sailings on Saturday.
A total of 19 sailings were scrapped and two ships had to be pulled from the busy Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen run.
The Coastal Renaissance was down an engine and couldn’t operate in high winds.
The Spirit of British Columbia had to be pulled after it was damaged docking at Tsawwassen Saturday morning.
“I could see were going to hit the pillar,” says passenger Ivan Mrdjen. “Once we crashed into the pillar, the ship was shaking. I could hear glass breaking and a few people were screaming.”
BC Ferries say the ship damaged its rubbing streak, which is similar to a fender on a car and is now out of service for about 10 days.
That resulted in six cancelled sailings Sunday and four more on Monday.
The transportation troubles are now raising questions about the Tsawwassen terminal.
The exposed terminal makes it difficult to navigate in high winds and during storms, ships have had to turn back when it’s unsafe to dock.
Most of the weekend cancellations were due to issues on the Tsawwassen side.
But BC Ferries says re-doing the terminal could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and moving it is out of the question.
“We’re not planning to rebuild Tsawwassen terminal at this point,” says Marshall. “The percentages of the incidents are very small compared to how many sailings we actually conduct in a day or a year.”
Fleet-wide, there are around 470 trips a day and for most, BC Ferries says it’s smooth sailing.