BC Ferries wants to hear from you. The question they want answered is: When the Quinsam is replaced, would you prefer one larger vessel that provides similar sailing frequency as the current service, or two smaller vessels with increased sailing frequency?
To receive your feedback, they are hosting a drop-in information session Monday, July 23 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm at the Gabriola Arts & Heritage Centre. Can’t make that date? There is an online survey at: https://www.bcferries.com/about/projects/routes-19-23.html. Please take a few minutes to fill it out. You have from today until July 26th.
BC Ferries today announced that due to current world fuel market conditions, the
company will remove the fuel rebates currently in place on June 27, 2018. BC Ferries closely monitors the cost of fuel and from time to time applies a rebate or surcharge under a regulatory process that is independent of tariffs.
BC Ferries uses a fuel rebate/surcharge mechanism to manage volatility in the price of fuel. When fuel prices are lower, BC Ferries passes lower fuel prices on to customers through a fuel rebate. When fuel prices are higher, BC Ferries charges a fuel surcharge specifically designed to cover the additional cost of fuel. The company does not benefit financially from the mechanism, as income raised from surcharges goes into a regulated Fuel Deferral Account, which is then drawn down to pay for rebates when the price of fuel falls.
Fuel rebates of 2.9 per cent for the major and minor routes and 1.9 per cent for the northern routes have been in place since the spring of 2016. Since that time, the price of fuel has progressively risen, but with government intervention the rebates remained in place, resulting in a $13 million deficit in the Fuel Deferral Account by March 2018.
This deficit was zeroed in April by agreement with the Provincial government, but the ongoing increases in fuel prices mean the fuel rebate is now being removed. For Gabriolans, the net effect will be a 30 cent increase in round-trip passenger fares and a 70 cent increase on the cost of a round-trip vehicle fare. Fare changes for experience card users will be proportionately less.
For details and draft concepts of the terminal development plans follow these links:
Between now and May 30, you can provide feedback to BC Ferries by completing the short survey at the link below. You can also send your feedback by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow this link to complete the BC Ferries survey and submit your comments on either plan.
It’s a holiday weekend once more and some ferries will be busier than usual. Last year’s busiest ferries are shown in black and red in the chart below – and we expect this year to be busier than ever, with ferry traffic up another 5% since 2017.
Don’t forget, though, that the 1.50pm ferry from Gabriola and 2.25 from Nanaimo will be back this year on Easter Saturday and Sunday. A printable copy of this chart can be found here
On February 15th the Ferry Advisory Committee met with BC Ferries’ Terminal Development managers to discuss the planned renewal of the ferry berths and the opportunities for improving ferry-related infrastructure in both Nanaimo and Gabriola as part of a structured Terminal Development Plan. FAC chair Steven Earle described the meeting as positive and productive, and expressed optimism that BC Ferries is committed to some significant changes that will improve both safety and functionality at both ends of the route.
BC Ferries also presented an overview of some of the preliminary ideas that could be considered for the berths, waiting rooms, parking, passenger drop-off, bus, pedestrian and cycling access, and the vehicle holding facilities on both sides. Construction of the new ferry berths is scheduled to take place in 2021.
The Terminal Development Plan (TDP) will set out a long term vision of how the Nanaimo and Gabriola terminals should develop over time. The TDP will provide the framework for the phased implementation of strategies, actions and projects over the next 25 years and will therefore need to accommodate measures for the planned replacement of the MV Quinsam within the next 10 years.
BC Ferries outlined the nature of the public consultation process that is proposed over the coming 12 months. As with similar projects elsewhere, delivering a final Terminal Development Plan is a six-stage process, with community engagement at several points along the way. Currently, BC Ferries is at the pre-planning stage which gathers input from government agencies and key stakeholders (including the FAC) on some of the key issues and opportunities that the TDP should address. Once the pre-planning stage is complete, an initial report is produced and, with input from the local community, the key issues and opportunities are identified. We anticipate that the first public meeting on the terminal development process will be held on Gabriola in May or June of this year.
Similar meetings were held on Denman and Hornby Islands last fall, and an example of the public consultation document for the Denman West and Hornby Island terminals can be found here.
Concerns that were raised by the FAC in our meeting regarding the Nanaimo and Gabriola terminals are summarized here and we invite Gabriola residents and businesses to submit comments and suggestions via the Have Your Say page on this website ahead of the formal consultation process.
BC Ferries’ quarterly operations report for July-September 2017 reveals just how much the extra vehicle traffic on our ferry last summer impacted on the quality of service provided.
Compared to the same period last year, our ferry carried 6,000 extra vehicles and more than 13,000 extra passengers, making Summer 2017 the busiest since 2010 – despite the fact that we now have two less departures each day. According to BC Ferries’ statistics, vehicle occupancy reached 70% for the first time ever – though this measure uses BCF’s new calculation of vehicle space – but even against Quinsam’s “old” capacity of 70 AEQs, this equates to 63% of deck space used – the highest quarterly average ever recorded on the route.
But, as we found out, this extra traffic led to more delays and more overloads. Now we can see just how bad things were. As the first chart shows, on-time performance slumped to the lowest ever recorded – with just 76.9% of sailings leaving within ten minutes of scheduled time. That’s even worse than we saw in summer 2014, when our ferry service was reduced and the initial schedule was acknowledged as “unworkable” by BC Ferries. Summer 2017 also saw a huge rise in the number of overloads – increasing by a staggering 50% since last summer, with 15.5% of all sailings reported as overloaded. That’s the equivalent of 30 overloads every week, the majority of which occurred on weekdays, often over several consecutive departures.The full quarterly report can be downloaded here from the Ferry Commission’s website.
The restoration of early afternoon sailings over BC Family Day will ease some of the pressure on ferries next weekend. However, with traffic expected to be up to 5% higher than Family Day 2017, ferries will be very busy at times.
Here’s a guide to the best times to travel over Family Day long weekend. Click here to download a copy.