BC Ferries to gradually increase service levels across multiple routes as economy reopens

BC Ferries to gradually increase service levels across multiple routes as economy reopens
BC Ferries
BC Ferries is increasing service levels to match the increase of demand as BC slowly reopens

As the B.C. begins to reopen the economy, BC Ferries and the province have agreed to a plan to gradually increase service levels across multiple routes along the B.C. coast.

The province has amended the Coastal Ferry Services Contract to permit these service adjustments through Sept. 7.

As traffic starts to return to the ferry system and British Columbia slowly begins to relax COVID-19 restrictions, BC Ferries says it is reintroducing service across the system in response to demand, in a thoughtful and controlled way.

“BC Ferries understands the important role we play in British Columbia’s social and economic recovery,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “We remain committed to ensuring coastal communities have reliable access to essential goods and transportation for residents, emergency personnel and health care workers. However, it will take some time before we return to pre-COVID-19 traffic demand and full-service offerings.”

The travel company says more service will be added over the summer as it will continue to monitor traffic levels for demand, as well as follow the provincial health officer’s guidelines.

This does not mean every route is reopening or increasing service. For northern and mid-coast communities, service will continue to operate at off-peak (winter) service levels. The summer direct service from Bella Coola to Port Hardy will not be back in effect until further notice.

Sailings resumed between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay on June 3.

Starting June 9, BC Ferries is increasing service on routes to the Southern Gulf Islands to match capacity with demand and direct sailings from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands will resume. This includes the re-opening of the Long Harbour terminal on Salt Spring Island and a second vessel from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands will not be introduced this summer.

On June 24, regular service will resume between Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay.

All other routes have maintained minimum core service levels during the pandemic, and this will still be the case moving forward under the new Temporary Service Level Agreement, although BC Ferries says minor adjustments to schedules above core levels on inter-island routes will be implemented in the coming weeks. The company says that some sailings will be even be removed in some instances, and will let customers know when.

Some measures that are not changing with this new announcement are the limitation of passengers to 50 per cent capacity per sailing and allowing travellers to stay in their vehicles on all decks during the sailings.

BC Ferries will continue enhanced cleaning protocols and screening of passengers before they board the vessel.

The pandemic hit BC Ferries hard. As of May 26, the company says it is losing $1.5 million dollars a day, as ridership tanks.

For schedules and information about BC Ferries’ response to COVID-19, visit the BC Ferries website.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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