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BC Ferries indicates piloted Texada stop will not be reinstated

Triangle ferry route axed between Little River, Blubber Bay and Westview terminals
DIRECTOR DISAPPOINTED: BC Ferries will not resume the Texada Island stop on its Westview Terminal to Little River Terminal [above] route, citing additional annual costs of $250,000 to service the mid-route stop.

BC Ferries will not continue with its so-called triangle route, which involves Salish-class ferries stopping at Texada Island to pick up vehicles and passengers on the Powell River to Comox route.

A project update from BC Ferries’ engagement team, emailed to qathet Regional District Area D director Sandy McCormick, stated:

“BC Ferries has concluded its review of the proposed schedule for a Texada Island to Comox pilot. While we understand the strong desire of the Texada Island community to have service directly to Vancouver Island, the solution desired by the community is not affordable at this time, given all the other pressures across BC Ferries’ system.”

McCormick said BC Ferries is essentially killing what Texada Island residents called the triangle run.

“As a former long-time member of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee, who worked hard on this issue, I am extremely disappointed by BC Ferries’ decision,” said McCormick. “The goal was to fill empty space on the Comox ferry and make money for the ferry corporation, as well as to provide easier access to medical specialists on Vancouver Island for Texada residents.

McCormick said former BC Ferries president Mark Collins shook her hand several years ago and promised that BC Ferries would try direct service as a pilot project.

“Now, they have reneged on their commitment; I’m saddened by this decision and the excuses BC Ferries puts forward to justify it,” added McCormick. “None of these reasons are insurmountable. The additional fares BC Ferries would have collected from Texadans would have covered the extra costs.”

McCormick said it looks to her like BC Ferries doesn’t want to be bothered with Texada residents and their travel needs.

Cost considerations

BC Ferries, in its email, stated that it wants to thank ferry advisory committee members who worked closely with the community to bring forward a proposal.

“We worked with our fleet deployment, financial and operational teams to carefully analyze the proposal including costs and potential revenue gains,” the email stated. “The estimated annual cost of the proposed service is approximately $250,000.”

This costing includes consideration for: increased labour costs and crewing implications of providing the service (ticket, terminal, deck crew, et cetera); increased fuel costs associated with longer travel times for the vessel; minimal revenue increase as they are shifting travel from one route to another, i.e. minimal traffic increase overall, the email stated.

“We recognize the strong desire of the community for easy travel between Texada Island and Vancouver Island,” stated BC Ferries. “Although we are unable to provide direct service at this time, we are actively exploring the potential to offer a through-fare for those travelling on to Comox. This will take our teams some time and we will provide an update to the community in the spring.”

The email stated that consistent with the company’s strategic direction for the coming year, BC Ferries is focused on addressing its most pressing priorities, including investing in its people to support reliable service, building capacity to support traffic growth across the system, and replacing the aging fleet of vessels.

“This overarching direction is supported by both boards of BC Ferries and the ministry of transportation and infrastructure,” the email stated. “With one of our most challenging summer seasons behind us, it is imperative that we focus our efforts and resources on addressing these priorities before we consider adding or modifying routes. Our decision regarding the Texada pilot has also been shared with the BC ferry commissioner, who understands the difficult choice we made.

“We would like to recognize the significant work of the ferry advisory committee members on Texada Island who have been instrumental in assisting BC Ferries in engaging with the community and representing community interests in relation to the direct service pilot. Their time and commitment are greatly appreciated.”