With the institution of a new BC Ferries initiative to transport Texada Island residents to Vancouver Island, the local committee working for the change is pleased with the announcement of the new route.
Kim Barton-Bridges, chair of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee, said the committee has been advocating for the route change for a number of years.
“It has been a few years in the works and we’re thrilled it is finally happening,” said Barton-Bridges. “It will be really good for Texada Island.”
BC Ferries launched a pilot program on Wednesday, February 19, that offers direct service, on select days, between Blubber Bay Terminal on Texada Island and Little River Terminal in Comox.
BC Ferries developed this pilot in cooperation with the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee for the convenience of Texada Island travellers.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, the first sailing on the Powell River-Comox route to leave Westview Terminal will make a stop at Blubber Bay to load a maximum of 10 standard vehicles, prior to continuing on to Comox. On the last sailing leaving Comox, Texada-bound customers will have an opportunity to sail directly to Blubber Bay.
Regardless of deck space available, only the first 10 standard vehicles to arrive for each applicable sailing will be loaded on the vessel, according to BC Ferries. Commercial vehicles are not included in the pilot.
Barton-Bridges said she and the committee are a little disappointed there is not a prepaid online reservation system in place. Texada Islanders have to line up at Blubber Bay, board the Salish-class ferry and pay for their tickets onboard rather than doing it online in advance of boarding.
The original intent was to have 10 reservations on the sailings for Texada Islanders, said Barton-Bridges. She said having reservations will be critical to the success of the two-year pilot project.
“I’ve been speaking with BC Ferries and I know they want to have reservations in place,” said Barton-Bridges. “I’m not sure when that is going to happen, but hopefully soon.”
She has heard from people who have asked why there will only be 10 spots on the ferry for Texada Islanders. She said BC Ferries has to start with a number.
People have been asking what happens if there are 15 vehicles that want to leave Texada Island in the morning, said Barton-Bridges. BC Ferries wants to make the route successful and ensure that if vehicles are taken over in the morning, they can bring them back in the evening as well, she added.
“They are going to be monitoring this,” said Barton-Bridges. “They will be monitoring its use and see how it all works. They are open to reviewing that number in a few months after the summer, or whatever. People have to be patient and let it start. Hopefully it will work out.
“Over this period it’s important to keep the communication open. If people see things that aren’t working, it’s a learning thing for everybody. I just hope people keep that in mind, give it a chance and keep BC Ferries informed.”
Barton-Bridges said all in all, she thinks the new route will be great and within a few months it will be even greater.