MV Queen of Surrey (Photo: bcferries.com)
BC Ferries has responded to the voice of the Sunshine Coast in a manner that I can't recall happening before. Facing a scathing public reaction to a ferry schedule that was entirely unreliable for commuters and incapable of being timely, BC Ferries undertook the step of consulting the public on delivery of their schedule.
This sort of public consultation has happened in the past, and typically little change has come of it. However, a couple things happened differently this time that it apart from previous incarnations. First and most importantly, BC Ferries was determined to try and align their schedule with a delivery that was actually feasible and reliable. The second is that over the winter of 2016/17, the clouds parted for our travelling community when BC Ferries was shifted to hourly service due to ship deck malfunctions. Suddenly everyone was happy – one could leave for the ferry knowing they wouldn’t be stranded at a terminal for hours by missing a boat. This wasn't just a moment of bliss, but an actual transformation of lifestyle for many. The overwhelming positive response to the improved service made it crystal clear how much of an impact ferry schedules have on our resident's lives. This was stated loud and clear during the public consultations – not in a bad way, but in a celebratory way.
Humorously, I was invited to one of the consultation meetings. The meeting starting promptly at 6:00pm so the consultants could get home on the 8:20pm ferry. Of course, as things started wrap up at 7:30, many of us were in a state of amusement knowing the ferry had yet to arrive Horseshoe Bay for the return trip (running over an hour late). I asked the consultants where they lived and what time they were hoping to be home, to which both replied “about 9:30pm”. Of course, when I followed up with them the next day I found they had actually arrived home closer to 11:15pm. I welcomed them to our world, and implored upon them to be brave when making our voices heard. To my delight, the consultants didn't sugar-coat their report.
Thankfully, we have just been awarded a significantly expanded permanent schedule for the first time in generations. BC Ferries have pledged to expand to two ferries and hourly service as soon as equipment and logistics allow. They've set aside the infrastructure money and the ships are on the order table. This is huge news for the Sunshine Coast. And I encourage residents to take full advantage of an expanded service to enjoy a significantly improved level of connectivity with the Lower Mainland. Here's the new expanded schedule and update from BC Ferries.
Sure I know we all live here for the quiet lifestyle, but I'm finally able to catch a Canucks game and make it home! That’s big for a Canuck fan. I hope we all enjoy a little more access to our favourite city or regional activities.
Talk to you soon,