If B.C. Ferries has a New Year’s resolution, it will be to try and keep its ships running on schedule.
The corporation is shifting its Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay sailing times to allow its ships more time in dock to load and unload passengers and vehicles.
Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said the main reason for the schedule changes, which start Jan. 2, is to compensate for rising traffic volumes at the Horseshoe Bay terminal, which serves vehicle and passengers traffic to and from Departure Bay, Langdale on the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island in Howe Sound.
“We’re basically altering all three routes coming in and out of Horseshoe Bay to improve the on-time performance,” Marshall said. “We want to post a schedule people can rely on.”
The new schedule increases the times between some sailings between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay, but the late night sailing – removed from the Monday to Thursday schedule several years ago – is back, which raises the number of regularly scheduled daily sailings on the route from seven currently to eight in the new year.
“We’ve … expanded the time between some of the sailings because we need more in-dock time to be able to accommodate the higher volumes coming off the ships,” Marshall said.
She went on to say the 10:10 p.m. sailing will benefit people who want to attend events in Vancouver and need a late sailing home and the new schedule will provide 160 more sailings through the shoulder and winter seasons.
The new schedule moves the first sailing of the morning from 6:30 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. All daily sailing departure times from Nanaimo to West Vancouver will change, but the biggest changes happen in the afternoon and evening when the 5 p.m. sailing shifts to 5:55 p.m., the Friday through Sunday 7 p.m. sailing will be dropped and replaced with a daily 8:45 p.m. departure and the current 9 p.m. departure will be replaced with the 10:10 p.m. sailing.
Horseshoe Bay departure times will see similar shifts, with lengthier gaps between 1 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 6:35 p.m. sailings
“What we’re finding, with the three routes coming in and out of Horseshoe Bay, you have a knock-on effect,” Marshall said. “If one comes in behind schedule, it can affect the other routes because three routes share the same discharge lanes at Horseshoe Bay. So if the Langdale ferry becomes late, that impacts the Nanaimo ferry, which can impact the Bowen ferry, so our scheduling team has come up with a way to give our ships more in-dock [time]…
”If we’re posting a schedule … our customers are relying on that, so we want to be able to deliver what we’re saying we’re going to deliver.”