On Thursday March 6, the Bowen Island Municipality Transportation Committee (BIMTAC) met with BC Ferries (BCF) staff about the proposed changes in the number of Route 8 (Bowen Island) weekend sailings and the consequent schedule changes.
The change in the number of sailings was mandated by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI). After an expensive and flawed consultation process conducted by the province, BCF is meeting with each individual Ferry Advisory Committee from the affected routes to review the schedules. BCF prepared an alternative schedule, based on the MOTI requirement to reduce the number of sailings, and posted it and the MOTI schedule on their website, while they ran an on-line questionnaire. The survey period ended February 21st and the posting is no longer on the BCF website.
Respondents to the on-line questionnaire, a concurrent random phone survey of Bowen Islanders and a similar survey of a panel of non-Bowen respondents revealed overwhelming support for the BCF version. The respondents also submitted comments that offered suggestions for ways to improve the BCF schedule. BCF reviewed the responses to the survey and prepared a revised schedule which they presented to the meeting on March 6th. The new BCF version appears to be workable and provides for an early morning (6:30am) sailing from Bowen and a late evening (9:30pm) sailing from Horseshoe Bay.
While the final schedule will not be released until March 31st the BCF draft schedule reflects the following:
The schedule changes affect only the weekend runs
The weekend schedule changes will most likely be the same all year;
There will be some fine tuning to avoid congestion at Horseshoe Bay
The early morning and last late night runs are protected
There will be fewer sailings Sat and Sun mornings, thus a longer time between the earlier sailings
The midday break will be a little longer and one less evening sailing
BCF expects these changes will achieve the $135,000 per year cost savings demanded by the province but was unable to give BIMTAC any details as to how the labour and fuel savings were calculated as the province considers this confidential information.
And, no this is no April Fool's joke: everyone's fares will rise by 4% on April 1st.
Adam Holbrook, BIMTAC