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BC Ferries cancels Horseshoe Bay/Langdale ferry summer trial

BC Ferries’ proposed three-and-a-half month trial for Route 3 connecting Horseshoe Bay and Langdale is no more.

According to a release from BC Ferries, the #Route3Trial, BC Ferries would have:

  • increased reservation space: from 40-50 percent on average to 95 percent of the vessel,
  • provided free reservations on all Saver and Prepaid fares,
  • held guaranteed space for Medical Assured Loading (MAL),
  • make Travel Assistance Program (TAP) travel “more certain,” and
  • among the changes to support the trial, Langdale would have become a fare-paid terminal for vehicle traffic. “The round-trip cost will be lower for those traveling with a reservation.”

The trial was tentatively set to launch on May 26th with prepaid bookings with free reservations for travel between June 21st through Oct. 13th. 

The concept didn’t sit well with many.

Glenda Sewards started an online petition to BC Ferries and Sunshine Coast Regional District, and it garnered nearly 8,700 signatures.

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She said the changes would “cause unnecessary stress, undue hardship and negatively affect thousands of Sunshine Coast residents’ quality of life, without ‘Community’ engagement.”  

“By forcing residents to make reservations both ways and implementing a toll booth on the Langdale side, traffic will back up the Bypass and into Gibsons,” the petition read.

“Commuters to and from Vancouver often do not know exactly when they will be leaving the office due to work demands.  These rules of having to have reservations mean that many residents of the Sunshine Coast will not be able to make it home to their families on the Sunshine Coast.  And how will this work for commercial vehicles?” it continued. 

“And only five percent availability for medical appointments and last-minute arrivals? How will this work for family emergencies and last-minute medical appointments?”

BC Ferries says the intent was “to test whether concepts of improved customer service in successful use elsewhere in the BC Ferries system would work on the Langdale route. After the trial, the results would be reviewed with the community and next steps determined.”

It added that, in a series of consultations with residents of the Sunshine Coast last fall, users of the Langdale ferry route voiced concerns about ferry travel stress and anxiety, especially in the peak season. 

“Uncertainty in travel times, long waits at congested terminals, and lack of available reservations were also noted as concerns. Participants wanted solutions that would help them plan and make their travel easier,” BC Ferries said in a release.

“Unfortunately, the proposed trial has become a divisive issue in the community, which certainly was not the intent,” said Mark Collins, President, and CEO of BC Ferries.

 “As a result, we will forego the Trial and operate the route in the usual manner this summer. It is evident that the issues are complex and more community conversation is needed before change can be considered. We extend our thanks to the many community leaders and elected representatives for their assistance in considering this proposal.”

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA, Nicholas Simons said on Facebook, “Thanks to Ferry Advisory Committee Chair Diana Mumford, to residents and businesses who spoke out, to local governments, and Kim and Rob at my offices who ensured that voices of the Lower and Upper Sunshine Coast were heard. There will be no pilot.”

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