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BC Ferries cancels 60 sailings with Coastal-class vessel out of commission

Ferry terminals expected to be busy over Labour Day weekend


BC Ferries anticipates one more busy long weekend at the terminals, and will then settle into its fall schedule with one fewer vessel in service.

BC Ferries held a press conference Thursday, Aug. 31, to provide an update on its plans for the Labour Day weekend and beyond as the broken-down Coastal Renaissance ferry is expected to remain out of service through Thanksgiving.

The ferry corporation will move to a fall sailing schedule once peak travel season comes to an end following Labour Day long weekend. At that point, the Queen of Alberni will become available to handle the Coastal Renaissance’s scheduled trips on the Tsawwassen-Duke Point route.

However, 60 sailings on the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route and the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route that had been scheduled to supplement the fall’s core sailing schedule will need to be cancelled. Approximately 800 customers had reservations on those cancelled sailings, and all will be contacted and offered alternative travel arrangements.

“I recognize that this change is very frustrating for customers. We do not have spare vessels available,” said Brian Anderson, BC Ferries’ vice-president of strategy and engagement.

As for the Labour Day long weekend, the ferry corporation is bracing for busy terminals the best it can, said BC Ferries CEO Nicolas Jimenez, running travel tips advertisements, securing traffic control partners and parking attendants, preparing for increased website traffic, and keeping call centre staff on standby in case of any problems.

“We’re ready to go,” he said. “We’re hoping British Columbians have heeded the message, which is if you don’t have reservations, we’re encouraging people to find alternate ways to get on board. Take transit, carpool, get dropped off and walk on. Essentially, if you don’t have a reservation, you will find it a very challenging experience, but if you have a reservation, you’re going to get where you need to go and you’re going to have a great weekend.”

BC Ferries’ calls for more passengers to walk onto vessels rather than drive on may be having some effect. Anderson said on the B.C. Day long weekend, the number of passengers walking on was up somewhere between 5-8 per cent compared with the previous long weekend.

“It was significant and notable, and, I believe it’s sort of a testament to the future where we need to do more encouraging of people to travel without a vehicle if they can to make best use of the available capacity on our vessels,” he said.

BC Ferries expects approximately 520,000 passengers and 200,000 vehicles across its routes over the Labour Day weekend.

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