The fallout from a police incident, mixed with a shortage of crew that’s defined BC Ferries’ summer so far, made for a chaotic Friday on the water.
At all major BC Ferries terminals, massive lineups and hour-long waits defined the day — and so did a lack of communication.
“[My dogs] had to sit in the car for an hour for nowhere to relieve themselves, and they have a while to wait a while still,” said traveller Zach Williams, who was trying to get to the Mainland from Swartz Bay for an appointment.
BC Ferries says Friday’s delays are the resulting domino effect of a police incident which delayed their Duke Point and Tsawwassen crew’s arrival home Thursday night.
“They were the crew who were supposed to crew those vessels today and we had to stand them down because they obviously need rest,” said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for BC Ferries.
Two boats were taken out of the running from the Duke Point/Tsawwassen Bay route as a result. Those cancellations had a knock-on effect on BC Ferries’ whole system, resulting in long lines and hour-long delays at all major terminals.
“It’s been pretty hectic so far. Just like no updates on anything. Just sitting here. We’re supposed to leave an hour ago. We only heard from word of mouth that we’d be waiting another two hours,” said Des and Kinzie from Tsawwassen.
Many customers told CHEK News their day was defined by uninformed BC Ferries staff on the ground with no communication or updates from the corporation as they waited.
“They weren’t telling us what was going on. So we didn’t know until we got up here at the ferry had been delayed for two and a half hours,” said one traveller in Tsawwassen.
“There’s been no communication, they haven’t even given us an update if it’s on time, or if we’ll be able to get on one,” said Neima. “Even on the website, they haven’t updated.”
@BCFerries The communication at horseshoe bay is confusing. Website current conditions says sailings to departure bay have space, signs say Nanaimo is full and the flag person on entry let us line up without a reservation. Are we getting to Nanaimo today?
— William Bakker (@wilhelmus) August 26, 2022
More than 10 ferries were cancelled last weekend. It’s been the saga for BC Ferries all summer, which is facing staff shortages. Less than a month ago, BC Ferries board chair Joy MacPhail, a former NDP politician, fired the company’s CEO.
Now, travellers are calling for change.
“It’s ridiculous, it needs to change. It can’t happen again next summer. It’s an essential service, they gotta figure it out. BC Ferries is a joke at this point. There are meme pages about it,” added Des and Kinzie.