The Gabriola Ferry Working Group has reviewed the BCF alternative schedule following receipt of your comments. Many thanks to everyone who responded.  Our recommendations are summarized in the following points, which we believe will address the vast majority of your concerns:

  • the morning shift should be advanced by 10 minutes (starting at 5:30 AM and ending with a 1:30 PM departure from Nanaimo),
  • the afternoon shift should be delayed by 10 minutes (starting at 3:15 PM and ending with an 11:15 PM departure from Nanaimo),
  • the Dangerous Cargo sailing should be moved to either Monday or Friday, when traffic is generally less than it is on Wednesday,
  • the refuelling should take place an hour later (between 10 PM and 11PM) and should be moved to Monday evenings when traffic is lowest, and
  • to reduce serious backups on both the Nanaimo and Gabriola sides additional mid-day sailings (dep. Gabriola at 2:05 PM, Nanaimo at 2:40 PM) should be added on Mondays to Thursdays over a 10-week period from late June to early September.

These recommendations have been forwarded to BC Ferries for investigation ahead of our meeting, which is scheduled for March 12.  Gabriola FAC Chair, John Hodgkins, believes the group’s biggest challenge is to convince BC Ferries that the reinstatement of the mid-day sailings will be revenue positive. “We have done a great deal of research into how much revenue will be put at risk if these services are not reinstated during the peak summer months. We believe that BC Ferries could risk losing more than twice what it would cost to run an extra sailing – even at overtime rates. We’re talking about putting back 40 round trips out of the 834 that government has told BC Ferries to cut”

In a recent message to Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs, BC Ferries outlined their view on what will be “on the table” for discussion when they meet with stakeholder groups:

“The purpose of the discussion on refinements is to identify a schedule to meet the financial savings set by the Province. The discussions are intended to identify achievable refinements within the following guidelines:

Implementing sailing schedules, including refinements, is the responsibility of BC Ferries. Refinement discussions will be on sailings times and do not encompass fares, service level increases or operating practice and must achieve financial savings

Discussions will include community needs for the remaining sailing times, e.g.:

  • Mid-day breaks
  • Layover periods
  • Connectivity to other routes
  • Dangerous cargo sailings
  • Connectivity to transit

The working group’s full submission to BC Ferries can be downloaded here.  Included in the submission are a series of graphs depicting the impact of the proposed schedule on existing ferry traffic. “The graphs starkly demonstrate just how much traffic will  be displaced by the missing daytime sailings, and how long ferry line-ups will be at both ends of the route if we cannot reach agreement on the midday summer sailing” said Hodgkins. “The impact will be felt all year, but it’s most serious during the peak summer period from the end of June to early September, so that’s the focus of our proposal to BC Ferries.  During July and August, ferry line-ups on the Gabriola side could regularly peak at around 150 vehicles – that’s more than double the capacity of the Quinsam, meaning line-ups could extend way back to the campground entrance and beyond, where there’s no safe queueing area”

On the Nanaimo side, the working group predicts regular summer overloads of 50 or more vehicles throughout the afternoon peak (3pm to 6pm and beyond) – that’s enough to block the whole of Front Street from the ferry booth back to Esplanade, potentially obstructing traffic flow through the bottleneck by the transit stops at Port Place Mall. “We don’t believe BC Ferries has  a management plan that will address this” said Hodgkins.

Similar Posts


  1. Looks fine & thank you for the FAC’s work on this. However I don’t think Friday or Monday would be good days for dangerous cargo — two of our busiest days in the summer/tourist season.

  2. Good point, thank you. Our reason for proposing Monday or Friday is that (at the times of the proposed DC crossings – 11.10 from Nanaimo and 5.45 from Gabriola – Mondays and Fridays are the least busy days for ferry traffic overall. Wouldn’t tourist traffic likely be travelling the opposite way at those times?

  3. These proposals do not address the need for a 8:30 pm sailing from Nanaimo for many children and teens returning home from evening practices/activities in Nanaimo. Currently the 8:20pm is used for this.

  4. Three sailings after 9pm seems excessive for the small number of passengers that use those late sailings. If the evening layover time was adjusted there could be sailings at 7:30pm, 8:30pm, 10:05pm, and 11:15pm. I really think the FAC needs to minimize adjusting sailing times so that commuting patterns are not disrupted. Otherwise there are two problems: service cuts and new schedule times. Right now due to the FAC proposed changes I am looking at an additional 1-2.5hours daily added on to my already long commuting time.

  5. from Concerned of Gabriola (by email)

    I am sure that the smart people of Gabriola have thought of it but I have not seen it mentioned anywhere. BC Ferries would not think of it.

    Save the “refuelling” trips. Just have the fuel truck drive on the ferry prior to the proposed afternoon break and sail over to Gabriola. DIESEL IS NOT DANGEROUS CARGO. Refuel the ferry during the break and then back to Nanaimo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.