Powell River, Comox, canceled Texada ferry route plan

Triangle ferry line interrupted between Little River, Blubber Bay and Westview terminals

BC Ferries will not continue its so-called triangular route, which involves Salish-class ferries stopping at Texada Island to pick up vehicles and passengers en route from Powell River to Comox.

A project update from the BC Ferries Engagement Team, emailed to Qathet Regional District Area D Manager, Sandy McCormick, said:

“BC Ferries has completed its review of the proposed schedule for a pilot project from Texada Island to Comox. While we understand the strong desire of the Texada Island community to have direct service to Vancouver Island, the community’s desired solution is not affordable at this time given all the other pressures on the BC Ferries system.

McCormick said BC Ferries was essentially killing what Texada Islanders called the triangle race.

“As a former longtime member of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Board, who worked hard on this issue, I am extremely disappointed with BC Ferries’ decision,” said McCormick. “The goal was to fill the empty space on the Comox ferry and make money for the ferry company, as well as make it easier for residents of Texada to access specialist physicians on Vancouver Island. .

McCormick said former BC Ferries president Mark Collins shook his hand several years ago and promised BC Ferries would try the direct service as a pilot project.

“Now they have reneged on their engagement; I am saddened by this decision and the apology offered by BC Ferries to justify it,” added McCormick. “None of these reasons are insurmountable. The additional fares that BC Ferries would have collected from the Texadans would have covered the additional costs.

McCormick said it felt like BC Ferries didn’t want to be bothered with Texada residents and their travel needs.

Cost Considerations

BC Ferries, in its email, said it wanted to thank the members of the Ferry Advisory Committee who worked closely with the community to come up with a proposal.

“We worked with our fleet deployment, finance and operations teams to carefully analyze the proposal, including costs and potential revenue gains,” the email reads. “The estimated annual cost of the proposed service is approximately $250,000.”

This costing takes into account the following: increased labor costs and crew impacts of providing the service (ticket, terminal, deck crew, etc. ); increased fuel costs associated with longer journey times for the vessel; a minimal increase in revenue as they shift trips from one route to another, i.e. a minimal increase in overall traffic, the email states.

“We recognize the community’s strong desire for easy travel between Texada Island and Vancouver Island,” BC Ferries said. “While we are unable to provide direct service at this time, we are actively exploring the possibility of offering a direct rate for those traveling to Comox. This will take time for our teams and we will provide an update to the community in the spring.

The email indicated that, consistent with the company’s strategic direction for the coming year, BC Ferries is focusing on its most pressing priorities, including investing in its people to support reliable service, building capacity to support traffic growth throughout the system and replace the aging fleet of ships.

“This overall direction is supported by both BC Ferries Boards of Directors and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure,” the email reads. “With one of our toughest summer seasons behind us, it is imperative that we focus our efforts and resources on these priorities before considering adding or changing routes. Our decision regarding the Texada pilot was also shared with the BC Ferry Commissioner, who understands the difficult choice we made.

“We would like to acknowledge the important work of the members of the Ferry Advisory Committee on Texada Island who have been instrumental in helping BC Ferries engage with the community and represent community interests in relation to the pilot direct service. Their time and commitment are greatly appreciated.

Carol N. Valencia