If leaving the car at home numbers among islanders’ New Year’s resolutions, Monday is a good time to start.
While the Queen of Capilano gets some TLC, the Bowen Queen will service the Snug Cove-Horseshoe Bay ferry route between Jan. 6 and Feb. 20. The smaller and older Bowen Queen comes with reduced car capacity, no elevator to the lounges above and no open cafeteria.
The BC Ferries website says that the refit “includes engine overhauls, upgrades to electrical systems, safety and maintenance inspections and painting.”
As there is no overhead walkway access on the Bowen Queen, passengers will board and disembark on the vehicle deck. As stairs are the only way to access upper levels, those with different mobility needs may be restricted to the car deck. As an accessibility measure, BC Ferries is placing a porta-potty on that deck.
As the Bowen Queen can carry 61 cars to the Capilano’s 100, BC Ferries is promoting temporary measures to help prevent overloads. This includes a reduced surface parking lot rate in Horseshoe Bay for residents ($100 per month plus tax for January and February or $10 per day from Jan. 2 to Feb. 24), for which islanders can register through BC Ferries customer service. There is also assured loading for vehicles with four or more passengers on the 4:35 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. weekday Horseshoe Bay sailings (up to 10 vehicles and they must arrive 20 min. before departure). BC Ferries is also promoting Bowen Transportation Society’s express bus between Horseshoe Bay and downtown Vancouver and back.
Ferry marshalling flaggers will work weekday mornings in peak commuter times and on Saturday mornings said Bowen Island Municipality Friday. Also, Metro Vancouver is allowing commuter parking in the Bowfest Field lot during the refit.
Some islanders are looking to carpooling as an overload mitigator. Municipal councillor Maureen Nicholson started the Bowen Island Ferry Refit Rideshare Facebook group for interested commuters (there are also Bowen Island Commuters and Bowen LIFT Facebook pages).
Commercial customers are too affected by the refit. A press release from BC Ferries says that overheight vehicle capacity is reduced on the Bowen Queen and it is best avoid peak sailing times where possible.