Traffic up, reliability down in Spring 2017 Quarterly Report

Every quarter, BC Ferries reports to the BC Ferry Commission on the performance of each route. The latest quarterly report (April to June 2017) confirms what many of us have seen this year – that as traffic has continued to increase, on-time performance has suffered and the number of overloaded sailings has increased significantly.

Spring 2017 saw the Vehicle Capacity Utilisation (the percentage of deck space occupied) rise to 58.3% – up by 4% compared to the same quarter last year, as shown in the graph below. Note that this graph expresses utilisation against the original deck capacity of 70, although BC Ferries now calculates the vessel’s capacity as 64.Slide3As traffic increases however, on-time performance is more difficult to maintain and as this next chart shows, the percentage of “on-time” departures in the quarter plummeted to just 86.1% compared to the past two years, when over 97% of departures left on time.  On-time performance at this low level is more typically seen only in peak summer and this quarter’s performance is the lowest recorded in Spring for the past five years.Slide4One reason for the slip in on-time performance is the number of overloads that have to be managed – which increased in Spring 2017 to almost 10% of all sailings. Each time an overload occurs, the loading process takes longer while crew members squeeze in as many vehicles as possible. The number of sailings reported as overloaded this Spring was up by more than two-thirds compared to Spring 2016 and was almost on a par with the peak summer months last year.  Slide5The full Quarterly Report to the BC Ferry Commissioner can be downloaded here 


Nanaimo News Bulletin – Don’t believe the Gabriola ferry schedule

If you (or your visitors) are looking for the Gabriola ferry schedule – don’t look for it in the June 29 Nanaimo News Bulletin. The ferry schedule published in BC Ferries’ ad on page A34 contains multiple errors.

The 1.50pm from Gabriola and 2.25pm from Nanaimo are shown incorrectly as not operating Saturdays or Sundays – which they do now, every weekend until September 3.

Several ferries are missing from the evening schedule – with the 6.40pm and 9.30pm sailings from Gabriola not shown, nor the 7.15pm and 10pm (except Wed) sailings from Nanaimo.

The correct schedule for the summer season can be found here or on the BC Ferries website


Extra weekend sailings start on July 1

The extra early afternoon sailings on Saturdays and Sundays start up again this Saturday (July 1) and run each Saturday and Sunday through until September 3.

The extra ferry leaves Gabriola at 1.50pm on Saturdays and Sundays, returning from Nanaimo at 2.25pm (matching the weekday schedule).

This is the second year of a two-year pilot agreed by BC Ferries following a request from the Ferry Advisory Committee.  Results from 2016 demonstrated that the reinstatement of these sailings generated extra traffic at weekends and the FAC is hopeful that the pilot project will be made permanent each summer after 2017.

FAC meeting moves to Gabriola Commons

The FAC Spring meeting with BC Ferries takes place on Monday April 24, starting at 3pm, with a new venue – upstairs at Gabriola Commons, 675 North Road.

Members of the public are invited to attend this meeting, but are reminded that this is NOT an open house session. You will be welcome to speak on a particular topic, but please contact the Chair by email  at ahead of the meeting. We will try and ensure that time is available for anyone who wishes to speak.

The agenda for Monday’s meeting can be downloaded here.

Ferry terminal parking Survey

The FAC would like to thank all who have responded to our online survey to determine public opinion on the need for time limits for parking at Gabriola’s ferry terminal.  The survey has now closed and results will be announced at the forthcoming FAC meeting on April 24.

Analysis of the responses has uncovered one respondent who made a supreme effort to distort the outcome of the survey – either intentionally or otherwise – by submitting no less than 450 identical responses from the same computer.  Needless to say, these responses will be ignored in the analysis. So, if your IP address is – thank you for your time and effort, but unfortunately only your first response will be taken into account.

John Hodgkins, FAC Chair.

Bad weather hits February ferry traffic

Figures released by BC Ferries show that ferry traffic to and from Gabriola fell by around 10% in February compared to February 2016. See our Route 19 Performance page for more detail.

Although much of this reduction can be attributed to the bad winter weather we experienced throughout the month, around 3% of the variance is down to the fact that 2016 was a leap year, so February 2017 was one day shorter than the same month last year.

The bad weather hit traffic levels on major routes too, with traffic between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay down 12% compared to February 2016.

April 1 fare increase is cancelled

BC Ferries today announced that there would be no fare increase on any of the minor ferry routes on April 1, 2017 – despite the Ferry Commissioner sanctioning a 1.9% increase each year until 2019.

Fares will only increase on the three major ferry routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland – where the 1.9% increase will be applied to vehicle fares, but there will be no increase in passenger fares.

For passengers travelling with a car from Departure Bay or Duke Point, the vehicle fare will rise from $54.80 to $55.80, but the cost of vehicle reservations will fall by up to $5 for reservations made 7 days or more in advance.

BC Ferries says that the top-up level on Experience Cards will also remain unchanged.

The corporation says it is monitoring fuel prices closely though, with a reminder that the present 2.9% fuel rebate on ferry fares is still there….. for the time being.