BC Ferries vessel. (Mike Patterson, Vista Radio staff)
BC Ferries says it’s gradually boosting service levels across multiple routes.
The province has amended the Coastal Ferry Services Contract to allow these service adjustments through to Sept. 7.
As traffic starts to return to the ferry system and the province begins to relax COVID-19 restrictions, the company is reintroducing service in response to demand.
“BC Ferries understands the important role we play in British Columbia’s social and economic recovery,” said BC Ferries president and CEO, Mark Collins.
“We remain committed to ensuring coastal communities have reliable access to essential goods and transportation for residents, emergency personnel and health care workers. However, it will take some time before we return to pre-COVID-19 traffic demand and full service offerings.”
BC Ferries says it will continue to monitor traffic levels on these routes and will add more service over the summer months as demand requires.
For northern and mid-coast communities, service will continue to operate at off-peak (winter) service levels.
The summer direct service from Bella Coola to Port Hardy will not be introduced at this time.
Starting June 9, service levels will be increased on routes to the Southern Gulf Islands to match capacity with demand.
As well, direct sailings from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands will resume. This includes the re-opening of the Long Harbour terminal on Salt Spring Island.
A second vessel from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands will not be introduced this summer.
On June 24, regular service will resume between the Saanich Peninsula (Brentwood Bay) and Vancouver Island (Mill Bay).
During the pandemic, BC Ferries noted that it has maintained minimum core service levels on all other routes as specified in the contract.
This continues under the new Temporary Service Level Agreement.
Minor adjustments to schedules above core levels on inter-island routes will be implemented in the coming weeks.
In some cases, certain sailings will be removed from the schedules.
The company says it will notify customers once the details are finalized.
Meanwhile safety measures in place include limiting passenger capacity by 50 per cent to support physical distancing.