BC Ferries confirms plan to gradually increase service levels

Jun 5 2020, 1:16 pm

BC Ferries announced on Friday it has reached an agreement with the provincial government on a plan that will result in a gradual reintroduction of its service levels across multiple routes.

This plan has been made in response to the provincial government’s relaxation of COVID-19 health restrictions, allowing businesses, attractions, and services to reopen.

The ferry corporation says the changes are a response to the increase in transportation demand on the ferry system, with the provincial government amending the Coastal Ferry Services contract to permit the service adjustments through September 7.

“BC Ferries understands the important role we play in British Columbia’s social and economic recovery,” said Mark Collins, president and CEO of BC Ferries, in a statement.

“We remain committed to ensuring coastal communities have reliable access to essential goods and transportation for residents, emergency personnel and health care workers. However, it will take some time before we return to pre-COVID-19 traffic demand and full service offerings.”

Traffic demand will be monitored, and service over the summer months will be adjusted accordingly.

As previously announced, service to the Southern Gulf Islands will be increased, including the restart of direct sailings between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands, with the reopening of the Long Harbour terminal on Salt Spring Island. But a second vessel on this route will not be introduced this summer.

On June 24, regular service will restart between the Saanich Peninsula’s Brentwood Bay terminal and Vancouver Island’s Mill Bay terminal.

Service on northern and mid-coast communities will continue to operate at off-peak winter service levels. The summer direct service from Bella Coola to Port Hardy will not be operational.

There will also be some minor adjustments to schedules above the existing minimum core levels for inter-island routes.

Earlier this week, BC Ferries restarted its major route between West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo’s Departure Bay.

The ferry corporation says all enhanced health safety measures will be maintained, including enhanced cleaning and screening of travellers, allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles in enclosed decks, and a 50% passenger capacity on each vessel to help support physical distancing.

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