As directed by the provincial government, BC Ferries is restoring some of the service that was cut from minor routes in 2014. On the Gabriola-Nanaimo route this will include restoration of all of the mid-afternoon weekend sailings–year-round. It will also include restoration of a single additional round-trip on weekdays, according to one of the following options:
Service Options
Option 1 Restoration of the early morning sailing on weekdays, leaving Gabriola at 5:25 am and Nanaimo at 5:55 am (shown in red). That 5:25 am departure should allow Gabriolans to make it to Departure Bay in time for the 6:15 am sailing to Vancouver. With this option most of the rest of the sailing times will be the same as what we have now.

Option 2 Restoration of the mid-evening sailings on weekdays. This involves some juggling of the schedule starting in the middle of the afternoon (although the 3:45, 5:00 and 6:10 pm sailings from Nanaimo would not change). It also means that the last sailing of the day on weekdays would be 11:30 pm from Nanaimo (compared with 11:00 pm now). The weekends would stay very close to what we have now.

The FAC has created an on-line survey so that Gabriolans can let us know which of these options they prefer. We urge respondents to consider not just your personal preference but also what you believe is in the best interests of the whole community. We’re hoping for a strong response to the survey and a clear preference for one of the two options. If the result is close to 50:50, then the FAC will have to consider all the information we have and make a decision that we feel is in the best interest of all Gabriolans. Whichever choice is made, it is expected that the changes will take effect on or before May 1st. It’s important to remember that we are going to have 2 ferries operating on this route within about 3 years, and that the schedule will change again at that time.

The survey is available here. Printed copies of the survey are also available in the library. Please take the time to let us know what you think. BC Ferries wants to implement the new schedule as soon as possible, so time is of the essence. The survey will close at midnight on Wednesday, March 27 (printed copies must be received at the Gabriola Library by 7pm Wednesday, March 27).

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  1. The focus on weekday sailing COMPLETELY ignores the needs of full time residents that live and work on Island AND raise families on Island.
    I am speaking with 20 years as a service provider, community volunteer, and local citizen. The early weekend ferries either allow or not travel on and off Island on the only days available or necessary for such people/families.
    Without the 735 am ferry on weekends, anything that is required off Island before 10am means waking at 5 am, catching the 615 ferry, and then waiting 1-3 hrs on the other side. Youth sports, courses like first aid training, swimming lessons, dance, music…..
    And catching the big ferries on the weekend, sports, visiting relatives, travel in general.
    What is with Mon-Fri but not Sat/Sun?
    It has been a very long time since there was any difference between what can and what people actually do participate in on Sat/ Sun vs Mon-Fri.
    The 2 choices are not the best possible, as usual. Just which is the least worst.
    As a long term resident, business operator, community volunteer and father I’m underwhelmed. This was not thought out with full time, I’ve and work on Gabriola citizens and their families.
    What a shame!

  2. On at least 4 of the past 7 days, daytime ferries have operated up to 30 minutes late, with (as usual) delays getting incrementally longer as the day goes on. Key to maintaining punctuality is to start service on time – and at the moment, it is rare for the 7.35 to leave late. Option 1 (at the times proposed by BC Ferries) will result in frequent delays to the 7.35, due to inadequate turn round time in Nanaimo. With today’s schedule, up to 50 minutes of accumulated delays can be recovered by shortening the service break in the evening, so that sailings from 9pm leave on time. Putting the extra round trip in mid-evening (Option 2) would see those accumulated delays running right through to end of service – or give BC Ferries the excuse to cancel a round trip in order to recover lost time. Much more thought is needed to consider the knock-on effects of either option.

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