The Gabriola Ferry Working Group (which includes the Ferry Advisory Committee, the Transportation Advisory Commission, our three elected officials, and representatives of the Gabriola Chamber of Commerce and the Gabriola Arts Council) has been working on alternative schedules that we think come close to achieving the government’s financial targets, but will not have the severe negative impacts of the cuts that the government has proposed. Meanwhile, BC Ferries have now made public an alternate proposal for the Gabriola route that addresses some of the concerns that islanders have expressed. This proposal does meet the financial targets set for them by government.
“The BC Ferries proposal stretches the operating day significantly from what we saw in December” said FAC Chair, John Hodgkins. “However, the resultant schedule introduces several short gaps in service during the day to minimise the amount of time that has to be paid at enhanced pay rates” We foresee some issues with overloading in summer; a problem which the working group had identified in its discussions.
The BC Ferries Schedule and the two Community suggestions can be viewed here. Both of our suggested options preserved the existing late evening sailings and early morning weekend sailings, both involved slowing the ferry down to save fuel, and both had reduced hours for the on-board crew and the Nanaimo terminal staff. Both included an early-afternoon gap in service, but in each case that gap was filled with an extra sailing to meet traffic demand on weekdays during the busy summer months.
“Our first option focussed on reducing staff costs, while the second was focussed on reducing fuel consumption” said Steven Earle, who chairs the Transportation Advisory Commission. “The modified BC Ferries proposal is similar in many ways to our first option, although it has slightly later starting times in the morning, slightly earlier end times at the end of the day, no very early service on Saturday and Sunday and no extra mid-day sailings in the summer.”
“BC Ferries have told us that the community options won’t meet their financial targets, and they will be reluctant to accept either one for that reason. That doesn’t mean that we can’t put them forward, and perhaps we can find some middle ground between theirs and ours when we meet with them sometime during February”.
We are looking for feedback from Gabriolans. Do BC Ferries’ proposals meet your needs for travel to and from Nanaimo? If you think they will create hardships for you (or your customers), please explain why. Which of these three suggested options would work best for you – and if that option increases operating costs, how should that increase be funded?
For more detail on the proposed schedule and to provide feedback, please go to our Proposed Schedules page and click on “Leave a Reply”, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . The closing date for receipt of comments for consideration by the working group is February 14.