The mid-evening break instituted after the service cuts of 2014 has created serious and ongoing hardship for Gabriola ferry riders – in particular families with children and teenagers who participate in Nanaimo-based after school activities. In fact, when the community was surveyed regarding which part of the service island residents most wanted to see restored, responses were almost evenly split between the option of restoring early morning service and eliminating the mid-evening break, with emotions running extremely high on both sides.
In June the FAC proposed to BC Ferries a few small adjustments to the schedule that we believe could provide significant relief for those impacted by the break, while at the same time improving on-time performance. Parents told us that while the problem is created by having a gap of 1 hr and 45 minutes between the two mid-evening sailings from Nanaimo, changing the schedule so that the 7:15 left as little as 20 minutes later would make a critical difference for a large percentage of riders. Keeping this in mind, as well as the need for the half-hour meal break for officers (which starts as soon as the last car is unloaded and is as close as is practical to the middle of the shift), the FAC attempted to rework the evening schedule in such a way that it would better meet the needs of both crew and passengers.
BC Ferries has informed us that they will be implementing the new schedule on September 3rd. While we realize that no schedule change will please everyone, we hope that this adjustment will provide a small measure of relief for some of those who have been negatively impacted by the break.
The FAC, with the strong support of the Gabriola RCMP, also continues to press BCF and MOTI for a solution to our serious ferry line up issues.