BC Ferries and the provincial government have come to an agreement on how to gradually increase service levels as B.C. re-opens.
The ferry corporation advised in a press release that a temporary service level agreement is now in place through to Sept. 7. BC Ferries says its service increases will be done “in a thoughtful and controlled way” and will follow provincial and federal guidelines.
Some of the initial steps will come into effect June 9, when BC Ferries increases service between Tsawwassen and the southern Gulf Islands, including re-opening Salt Spring Island’s Long Harbour terminal.
June 24 will see resumption of regular service between Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay.
BC Ferries’ website indicates that current ferry schedules on major routes including Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay, Tsawwassen-Duke Point and Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay are in effect through to the end of June, and “schedules from July to September are not confirmed and will be updated soon.”
Northern and mid-coast communities will continue to see winter service levels and the direct service Bella Coola-Port Hardy route “will not be introduced at this time.”
The BC Ferries release notes that the ferry corporation will continue to monitor traffic and will add sailings as required over the summer months.
“BC Ferries understands the important role we play in British Columbia’s social and economic recovery,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries president and CEO, in the release. “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 notes that it continues to observe Transport Canada’s directive to limit passenger capacity on vessels to 50 per cent to support physical distancing. As well, customers may remain in their vehicles on any car deck during sailings and additional cleaning and passenger screening measures are in place.