Gabriola Ferry Working Group is still waiting for feedback from BC Ferries following its submission on February 26, in which a number of alterations to the proposed schedule were suggested. Meanwhile, BC Ferries has provided the results of its own survey of customers’ reaction to the ‘refined’ schedules that are now proposed for implementation on April 28.
Reactions to the BC Ferries survey underline many of the concerns that were reported to the Working Group – and our suggested alterations will, we believe, address the majority of detailed comments made to BC Ferries. However, it is evident that delaying the mid-evening departure from Nanaimo from 8.20 to 9.10pm will create problems for many regular travellers who finish work after 7.30 or attend after-school activities in Nanaimo. The Working Group will therefore ask BC Ferries for the 30-minute meal break that was scheduled in Nanaimo at 8.30pm to be moved to 9pm in Gabriola, to allow an 8.30 departure to be maintained.
BC Ferries’ managers are currently meeting with advisory groups along the coast to evaluate the reaction to their recent proposals. Representatives from the Gabriola Ferry Working Group will meet with BC Ferries on March 12.
Early indications from other meetings suggest that there may be no flexibility in the number of round-trip sailings that are to be cut from the schedule, with the government’s target of 834 round trips annually on Route 19 being immovable. If that’s the case, the Working Group must look again at possible options to offset the 40 extra round trips that have been identified as essential to accommodate increased traffic during the peak summer months of July and August.
The group is now reluctantly considering where a reduction of 40 round trips could be made in order to allow the extra summer services to be maintained. One option is to cut one of the late-evening sailings on either Sunday or Tuesday evenings, which consistently have the lowest utilisation (averaging just 4 vehicles and 9 passengers on the 11.30pm departure from Nanaimo). Both were examined in the on-board surveys conducted by the group last November. On Sundays, the majority of passengers are making leisure journeys; those travelling on Tuesday nights are primarily returning from work or classes.
If BC Ferries is going to insist on sailing cuts to compensate for the extra summer sailings, our view is that the loss of the last sailing on Sunday evenings would be less disruptive than on Tuesdays. To be clear, this would mean that the last departures on Sundays would be at 9:45 PM from Gabriola and at 10:15 PM from Nanaimo, except that, in peak summer when leisure travel is at its highest, the last trips would be maintained.
What do you think?
The group would therefore welcome the community’s view on a recommendation that, if no other option exists, the last round trip on Sunday nights (40 weeks a year, excluding peak summer) should be foregone in order to secure the 40 extra midday trips necessary to meet peak summer demand.
We would also like to hear your thoughts on the retiming of the mid-evening departure from Nanaimo. Would 8.30pm work better for you than 9.10pm? Please give us your views click on “leave a comment” below.
To see what the ferry schedule would look like if these changes are made, click here