BC Ferries says they are well prepared for the fourth busiest long weekend for riders as they start their travel plans across the province.
President and CEO Nicholas Jimenez says he is expecting to see 525,000 passengers and an excess of 200,000 vehicles traveling during the weekend but warns people with no reservations should look at making alternate arrangements.
“We have been very upfront with passengers on what to expect especially with the Coastal Renaissance out of service,” he says. “We will be adding extra staff, like every long weekend to make ensure smooth operation.”
Despite being prepared for the long weekend now Jimenez says he knows issues can arise without warning [referencing the Coastal Renaissance] but he assures riders they are monitoring the weekend closely to limit issues as they arise.
“We have staff in place in key areas to reduce delays,” he says. “We also have additional monitoring throughout the weekend, human and automated, in the event something happens.
“We are hoping British Columbians have heeded the message, ‘if you don’t have a reservation make alternate arrangements.”
As ferry service transitions into fall service, after the long weekend, BC Ferries will start to make needed repairs and maintenance to the fleet. Chief Operations Officer Brian Anderson says that could mean many smaller and larger vessels could be out of commission for up to 8 weeks, depending on where they are in their life cycle.
“After Labor Day we transition into a difficult time involving most of our vessels,” he says. “Vessels need to undergo safety and planned maintenance work on all our vessels over the span of nine months.
“This needs to be done to ensure they are available again to provide core sailings for the next peak season in June.”
Anderson outlined the scheduled BC Ferries uses for maintenance and the priority lists when it comes to which vessel to pull first.
“We first look at vessels that provide core sailings, second to provide transportation corridors for essential goods and supplies and lastly if there are any services remaining, we supplement core sailings around peak travel,” he says.
With the Coastal Renaissance out of service, Anderson says it has impacted the ability to provide supplemental support for sailing at peak times on two routes.
He notes there has been an additional 60 trips normally planned post Labor Day until Thanksgiving, but they have had to reevaluate those trips with the Renaissance out of service.
“There is no vessel available to provide this supplemental service during that time period,” he says. “As a result, those 60 extra trips will be canceled.
“This will impact a possible 800 passengers who currently have bookings on those sailings, on those routes at those times.”
BC Ferries says they have exhausted all avenues to reduce the impact on service impacts on passengers, but they note even with the absence of one vessel there has been an increase of five to eight per cent in passenger traffic.