BC Ferries trials off-peak fare discounts

BC Ferries today launched “50% off the Coast” – a six week Fall offer of discounted passenger fares on selected off-peak sailings on ferry routes across the network, with promises of more to come if this scheme is successful in generating additional traffic.

For Gabriola, this is what’s on offer, between September 8 and October 15, 2015 (except Thanksgiving Monday, October 12):

  • 50% off the regular adult, child or Senior fare on selected sailings  on Monday to Thursday, also on Saturday afternoons.
  • The regular adult fare reduces from $11.25 to $5.65.
  • Children aged 5-11 years and BC Seniors (Monday to Thursday) will pay $2.85 instead of $5.65
  • Experience Card users’ fares will also be discounted to the rates shown above.
  • The reduced fare will apply to tickets purchased on Mondays to Thursdays for sailings leaving Nanaimo between 10.40 am and 3.45pm. (on Wednesdays, the offer starts with the 11.55 am departure because of the Dangerous Cargo sailing at 10.40).
  • On Saturdays, the reduced fare will be available on all sailings leaving Nanaimo from 1.10 pm to end of service.
  • There are no restrictions on travel times from Gabriola to Nanaimo.

The 50% discount will also be available on passenger fares to and from Vancouver on the following sailings:

  • Mondays to Thursdays at 10.40am, 12.50pm and 3.10pm from Departure Bay or Horseshoe Bay**
  • Saturdays at 3.10pm, 5.20pm, 7.30pm and 9.30pm from Departure Bay or Horseshoe Bay
  • Mondays to Thursdays at 12.45pm and 3.15pm from Duke Point or Tsawwassen
  • Saturdays at 3.15pm and 5.45pm from Duke Point or Tsawwassen.

** Note that from October 13-15, the schedule changes to 10.30am, 12,30pm and 3pm from Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay.

Full details of reductions on other routes, check out http://www.bcferries.com/promotions/50-percent-off-the-coast.html

FAC responds to Ferry Commission on BCF Annual Report

On July 31, 2015, BC Ferries submitted its Fiscal 2015 Annual Report to the British Columbia Ferries Commissioner, within which the results of the 2014 Customer Satisfaction Tracking Survey are, for the first time in recent years, prefaced by a series of responses and planned actions from the ferry corporation.

Several of the route-specific responses related to Route 19 (Nanaimo Harbour to Gabriola Island) and FAC Chair, John Hodgkins, submitted a reaction to the report on behalf of Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee.

The FAC submission to the Ferry Commissioner can be downloaded here.

June ferry traffic hits four-year high

Our warm summer weather was undoubtedly a major factor in the 8% increase in ferry traffic to and from Gabriola this June compared to the same month last year.

According to BC Ferries’ traffic statistics released today, 30,203 vehicles were carried during June – the highest June figure recorded since 2011. The 67,929 passenger journeys was the highest since June 2010.

Although traffic was also up during May, the increase was not enough to make up the traffic lost in 2014 after the service cuts were made.

Monthly traffic statistics can be found on our Route 19 Performance page

Fire Hazard Readiness – How BC Ferries would respond

The following information has been provided by BC Ferries’ Marine Superintendent as guidance on the protocols to be followed in the event of a major fire or incident on Gabriola. 

BC Ferries’ default position is to maintain the normal ferry schedule unless they are instructed by Emergency Services to do otherwise. The normal schedule is already known to all of the emergency services and to most island residents.

BC Ferries’ Operations Centre in Victoria is staffed 24/7 and is their primary point of contact for all emergency authorities. From there, BC Ferries has the ability to mobilise resources to support needs of the emergency services, though it should be recognised that like most organisations, BC Ferries’ resource levels are at their lowest overnight, when crew members may need to be mobilised unexpectedly. In emergency situations, BC Ferries aims to provide an effective response within the resources they have available to them.

In the event of a major incident, BC Ferries would likely receive direction from Emergency Management BC (EMBC) that a local state of emergency was being declared and EMBC would issue direction to BC Ferries to work with local officials on how to prioritize service.  In those circumstances BC Ferries would follow the direction of the emergency authorities, and those authorities would, in turn, be dependent on BC Ferries to advise on what response they are able to provide, and on any risks associated with that response.

The question of whether or not BC Ferries would be able to transport private vehicles in an emergency response situation would be a matter for the emergency authorities to determine. BC Ferries will prioritise life over assets, but recognises that the ability to move vehicles assists the movement of people on both sides. Normal practice is, however, to take foot passengers on first.

BC Ferries points out that the emergency authorities would likely ask them to suspend travel to the island for anyone other than emergency responders in the event of a major incident on the island.  This means that family members already off island may not be able to return until the emergency response is concluded.

This advice will be updated with any further information received from BC Ferries.

Greyhound plans to cut all services north of Nanaimo; Tofino Bus looks set to take over

In the latest move toward returning its Canadian operations to profitability, Greyhound Canada has announced its intention to withdraw from its Nanaimo-Campbell River and Campbell River-Port Hardy routes, but has told its regulators, the Passenger Transportation Branch of the BC government, that “it is very likely another inter-city bus operator will apply to take over the routes”.

Simultaneously, Tofino Bus Services have lodged an application to run an identical service on both routes and anticipates a start date of August 1. Tofino Bus already has an inter-line partnership with Greyhound on its Nanaimo-Victoria and Nanaimo-Tofino routes.

Details of the planned Tofino Bus services can be found here.

BC Ferries releases year-end results

BC Ferries this week published its Year-End Results for Fiscal 2015, revealing the stronger financial performance for the year that underscores the Ferry Commissioner’s decision to hold future fare increases to 1.9% each year in the next performance term.

The corporation’s 5.1% increase in revenue is largely attributed to increasing vehicle and passenger traffic, especially in the final quarter of the year, when good weather boosted ferry traffic significantly compared to the dismal results in the spring of 2014.  The 2014 fuel surcharge raised $13 million, but there’s no reference to how much of the extra revenue comes from the new 50% fare now paid by seniors.

Cost inflation was held at just 1.1% overall, though the underlying trend of a 5% increase in maintenance and administration confirms that the bulk of the cost savings have been achieved through lower operating expenses (fuel and labour) which fell this year by 1% – the product, no doubt, of falling fuel prices and service cuts to the minor routes.

It may be the good news that shareholders and government wanted to hear, but it’s too bad that the nine-page year end report fails to even acknowledge the April 2014 service cuts as a “significant event” for the corporation. It was certainly a significant event for Gabriola.

More reaction on the Opinion page