BC Ferries is making contingency plans as engine failure has taken a ship servicing Nanaimo-Tsawwassen out of service for a significant period of time.
Coastal Renaissance sailings were cancelled Thursday, Aug. 17, and will be cancelled for the coming weeks, too, said Nicolas Jimenez, BC Ferries president and CEO, at a press conference. The problems arise from “a failure of the No. 2 drive motor,” he said.
“As we unpack the issue and work with the original equipment manufacturer to understand better these technical details, this is not a simple fix,” he said. “This is in fact, a very complicated fix, that will take an extended period of time that is likely to be measured in weeks, not days.”
The full extent of damage should be known in the next 24 hours, Jimenez said, and plans to accommodate affected passengers are not yet finalized.
“The issues that we are working through right now is, how do we manage all of the people who are going to be impacted by this situation?” he asked. “We know, for example, that there’s more than 2,000 people who would have had bookings on both the Renaissance and the possible vessels that we could use to help bring back into service to fulfill what we have to do on that contracted route. This is what we will be doing over the course of the day.”
Whether any measures will be taken at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay ferry terminal for potential overflow traffic, Jimenez said it is something staff will examine.
“Once we have the recovery plan in place … we will absolutely be looking at whether we need additional traffic management, additional staffing, and this will also include whether we’re having earlier or later sailings that will potentially offset some of the capacity that we would see during the day if if there was fewer ships in the mix,” he said. “So I think all of those details will definitely be part of what our emergency management team is working on.”
Customers with reservations will be issued an immediate refund and a voucher for free travel at another time, said Jimenez, and BC Ferries wants to ensure some availability for stand-by travellers.
“Our goal in this is to keep the reservation levels, which are already quite high, about 85 per cent, where they are, maintain the very small percentage of availability for other customers because we know many have certain needs that can’t be planned for…” he said. “We are also exploring the potential of whether we can offer sailings earlier in the morning or later at night. All of that is being looked at.”