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Transit and Pedestrian Ferry Connections

A number of initiatives at the BC Ferry corporation caused us some concern with regard to the ability of transit riders and pedestrians to access ferry services. As a result the letter included below was sent. The reply form BC Ferries follows.

Our letter of July 7, 1997 to BC Ferries President and CEO Frank Rhodes

July 7, 1997

Mr. Frank Rhodes
President & CEO
BC Ferries
1112 Fort Street
Victoria BC V8V 4V2

Dear Mr. Rhodes:

As an organisation representing the users of forms of transportation other than the private automobile, Transport Action BC is both concerned and enthusiastic about some recent events at BC Ferries.

Firstly, we are concerned about the poor public transit connections at the Duke Point terminal. Transit connections at Departure Bay have been and continue to be excellent but we understand that there are no connections to many of the sailings at Duke Point. Given the remote location of the Duke Point terminal, this presents a major challenge to those travellers who would otherwise be able to travel without a private vehicle. Marketing for the Duke Point terminal has also completely overlooked the needs foot passengers.

We also find the proposed relocation of the Vancouver Island terminal for the Gabriola Island service from downtown Nanaimo to Duke Point objectionable for the same reasons. The existing terminal location is extremely convenient to downtown Nanaimo, being walking distance from the downtown core, the BC Transit downtown bus exchange, and a large shopping centre. The Duke Point terminal has none of these benefits. The Gabriola terminal must either stay where it is or a passenger only service to downtown Nanaimo be guaranteed at the current service level.

On a positive note, word that a direct passenger only Vancouver – Swartz Bay, and possibly Gulf Islands, service is under consideration is most welcome. This service would make travelling to Victoria without a car far more attractive and would also be very beneficial for cyclists, who would no longer be faced with the roadblock of the Massey tunnel to reach the ferry terminal.

It is our firm belief that catering to the foot passenger and the cyclist would be a very appropriate strategy for BC Ferries to take. By encouraging ferry riders not to drive aboard, considerable capital costs in building car ferries could be avoided. Innovative partnerships should also be developed by BC Ferries to help reduce the need for new ferries. For example, there is talk that the Queen of Capilano will either have to be expanded or replaced to deal with growing (motor) traffic on the Bowen Island route. It would likely be much more cost effective for BC Ferries to assist in setting up a commuter bus service on Bowen Island to reduce vehicle demand than to build more automobile capacity on its ferries. No doubt other similar opportunities exist on the BC Ferries system.

I hope you find these comments constructive.


Ian Fisher,

Frank Rhodes’ Reply of July 11, 1997


July 11, 1997

Mr. Ian Fisher
Transport Action British Columbia

Dear Mr. Fisher:

I wish to acknowledge and thank you for your letter of July 7.

I greatly appreciate your taking the time to write to me, advising of the work of Transport Action BC and your observations with respect to a number of initiatives now underway by the British Columbia Ferry Corporation.

Initially, I would like to point out that the Corporation has been successful in attracting bus services to Duke Point through private sector operators. It was not possible to establish transit links with B.C. Transit but I am very pleased with the service that we are now initiating with Laidlaw.

In respect of the Gabriola ferry service, no decision has been made with respect to relocating services to Duke Point. It is very clear that if such a decision were taken it would require community support and would also involve establishing passenger-only services direct to downtown Nanaimo to work conjunctively with a relocated primary ferry service run. Again, no decisions have been taken on this matter.

I am pleased to note your support for the work we are now doing with respect to a passenger-only direct Vancouver/Swartz Bay route. This initiative is under active review and I hope to make a decision in this regard by year end.

I greatly appreciate your taking the time to write to me and express your views on these issues.

Yours sincerely,

Frank Rhodes