BC Ferries Evades Massive Cancellations Amid Busy Weekend

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Nestled in one of its most bustling weekends of the year, BC Ferries narrowly dodged a cascade of cancellations on a primary route this past Saturday.

At around mid-day, the state-run ferry operator declared its decision to cancel two journeys on the frequented Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route, bridging Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria. As per BC Ferries, the handshake with cancellation was triggered by their inability to recruit the requisite number of crew members for the 6 p.m. setting off from Tsawwssen and the 8 p.m. homeward jaunt from Swartz Bay.

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In assuring passengers, it pledged to either set a new booking or provide a refund for those with reservations on the nullified voyages, expressing regret for the inconvenience levied upon travelers.

In an unexpected turn of events, thirty minutes following the announcement, BC Ferries backtracked. A renewed service notice recounted the resolution of the earlier staffing scarcity that had plagued the Queen of New Westminster, and thus, the repeal of the cancellations.

The statement noted, “The vessel is set to cross the waters as planned for the rest of the day…We extend our gratitude for your patience and tender our apologies for any inconvenience generated by the premature cancellations.”

On the flip side, the day was not bereft of cancellations altogether. As of 4 p.m., ferry services were called-off on the smaller Saltery Bay route, near Powell River, and Earls Cove on the Sunshine Coast.

BC Ferries suffered steep criticism over the summer, particularly after a turbulent Canada Day long weekend characterized by booked-out sailings, delays, extended queues, and online-booking glitches.

During the pandemonium of that long weekend, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming dubbed the situation “unacceptable,” imploring BC Ferries to amp up their game and offer a more reliable service.

Post then, the August long weekend – traditionally the year’s busiest, proceeded without significant glitches. However, troubles were afloat as one of the operator’s largest vessels hit a brick wall.

The Coastal Renaissance, projected to be off-duty until October, resulted in around 800 marooned passengers holding reservations over the Labour Day long weekend, as informed by BC Ferries director of public affairs, Deborah Marshall.

The Queen of Alberni, a somewhat smaller vessel, has been enlisted to take the helm from the Coastal Renaissance and is expected to continue this role until Thanksgiving. This forced change set off a domino effect, causing 60 journey cancellations on routes between Horseshoe Bay and destinations on Vancouver Island, and the Sunshine Coast, impacting an additional 800 clients between Labour Day and Thanksgiving.

In a two-fold press update on Saturday, BC Ferries reported smooth traffic at key terminals and enough capacity to accommodate standby traffic.

The ferry service anticipates transporting an estimated 200,000 vehicles and 520,000 passengers to their intended destinations during the period from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.