Ferries quizzed on two-ship schedule

Sechelt council’s representative on the Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC), Coun. Matt McLean, is urging BC Ferries to give Sunshine Coast residents more details about how having two ships serving the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay route will improve service.

Ferries is on track to switch to two-ship service in 2024, when the company’s building program will free up the Queen of Oak Bay to join the Queen of Surrey year-round on Route 3.

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“The question is, is that full hourly service, 16 sailings a day, for the full year or are we looking at something like 12 sailings a day like we currently have in the summer, except maybe extend that to the full year? What will the service pattern look like come 2024?” McLean asked.

Peter Simpson, director of fleet operations strategy, said BC Ferries hasn’t yet drafted a schedule for two-ship service and also said 16 sailings a day would be the maximum that could be managed with two ships.

According to Simpson, the Surrey-Oak Bay tandem would “struggle” to achieve hourly trips “under their current speed, loading and capacity parameters.”

McLean said he’d like to see a commitment from BC Ferries for 16 sailings a day, with gaps between trips as close to hourly as possible.

FAC chair Diana Mumford and Sunshine Coast Regional District representative Lori Pratt both pointed out that as well as BC Ferries having a vessel available, more frequent service on the route is heavily dependent on the contract between Ferries and the province.

Pratt said including more frequent Route 3 sailings in the service contract is “something [we raise] any time we have the [transportation] minister’s ear.”

Simpson said there will be “fulsome community engagement on what that [two-ship] schedule would look like.”

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