BC Ferries has provided the FAC with the following ‘Fast Facts’ for the new, two-vessel ferry service starting April 12.
Capacity increase between Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island
• Effective April 12, 2022 two Island Class vessels will enter service on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route
• The introduction of the new vessels will result in a 49 per cent vehicle, and over 30 per cent passenger, capacity increase and doubling of sailing frequency at peak times for the route.
• Two-ship service will be in operation from 6:20 am – 5:05 pm each day, and will offer sailings approximately every 35 minutes.
• Waits are still possible on the busiest days of the peak season, with two vessels running twice as frequently, traffic should clear more quickly and sailing waits should be shorter.
Community feedback is reflected in the new schedules
• We heard from the community about the importance of the morning sailing times to support commuters and school children leaving Gabriola.
• The schedule reflects this input with a new 7:05 am departure from Gabriola.
• We also heard about the need for easier loading and unloading of foot passengers and have constructed a new separate foot passenger walkway at the Nanaimo Harbour terminal to support this.
Second vessel will run on a 12-hour day
• The second ship will maintain a 12-hour service day and will operate until its last sailing at 5:05 pm from Descanso Bay.
• Some gaps in sailing times still exist mid-day. These gaps are to allow time for crew breaks which provide time for crew to rest, preventing fatigue and helping maintain the safety of operations.
• The focus is on providing additional service during the typically busiest travel times to provide the greatest benefit to the community. To avoid disrupting established travel patterns, the evening sailing times have been kept close to what is currently in place.
• Service will continue with a single ship from 5:05 pm until the last sailing of the day at 11:00 pm out of Nanaimo Harbour.
Island Class capabilities
• The extra ship will increase capacity for vehicles and provide more sailing opportunities for commercial traffic.
• The higher capacity will reduce the competing needs for deck space between smaller vehicles and larger commercial vehicles.
• More sailing opportunities for commercial and higher capacity will reduce the likelihood and potential impact of sailing waits for all vehicles.
• The Island Class vessels have similar weather handling capabilities as our Spirit and Coastal Class vessels that sail between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
• The Island Class vessels sailed from the shipyard in Romania to Victoria under their own power and have successfully sailed in challenging weather conditions on other routes for over a year.
• We are confident they can handle the winter weather conditions present on any of our inter-island routes.
• The Island Class are fitted for full electric operation once shore charging infrastructure is available. We continue to work on the long-term plans for full electrification of the vessels.
Readiness at terminals and berths
• A separate foot passenger walkway at Nanaimo Harbour terminal has been constructed to make loading and unloading more efficient.
• Minor updates were completed at both the Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island terminals to support the introduction of the Island Class vessels onto the route.
• The second Island Class vessel will be tied up at the Nanaimo Harbour Authority’s Visiting Vessel Pier on Cameron Island when it is not in service.
• We expect the vessel to have minimal impact on nearby residents as lights, generators etc. will not be running while the vessel is at dock.
• We are in direct contact with the strata councils on Cameron Island to communicate our plans and answer any questions or concerns residents may have.
Plans for the Quinsam:
• The start of two-ship service with the new Island Class vessels on Route 19 will enable the Quinsam to enter service on Route 6, April 13, 2022 and keeping the schedule the same.