Editorial: Schedule departure

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Few things enrage an island-dweller more than unexpected ferry waits.
With the current situation on the Vesuvius-Crofton route it feels like BC Ferries turned the gas burner on high under a constantly simmering anger. And guess what: it’s boiled over.
People wondering how the 44-car ferry Quinitsa would be able to handle traffic on the route when the larger Howe Sound Queen was already frequently overloaded had their suspicions quickly confirmed. A recent situation saw multiple sailings overloaded from early afternoon onwards, even for those who arrived well in advance. This may have been the result of a “perfect storm” of unusual and unknown circumstances, as BC Ferries has suggested. But similar situations have also since occurred and it now takes very little to set off cascading overloads throughout the schedule.
With summer holidays starting and summer visitors on their way, the situation is bound to get worse before it gets better. Some reprieve may come in the fall or winter, but it will be brief, as the Quinitsa is scheduled to be on the route until 2021 or 2022.
BC Ferries has long known about the size concerns involved with the configuration, and went ahead with the ship assignment because it says there simply is no better option until new minor class ships start to arrive for the other routes. It downplayed the ferry size difference, which made the reality of the change even harsher. If using the Quinitsa really is the only option, the company needs to be more flexible and creative than it has in the past with how it operates this route.
Shuttling the ferry back and forth instead of sticking to a schedule is one solution that has been raised by residents, and it’s something the ferry corporation has done in other places, such as the crossing between Hornby and Denman islands. Adding reservations, or assured loading for people with medical appointments and other priority needs, should also be considered.
Residents should bring ideas like this and any others to the next public meeting between BC Ferries and Salt Spring’s ferry advisory committee, which is coming up on July 9.
The current situation is untenable. BC Ferries needs to look at all possible options, including putting the Bowen Queen on the route, as it has done in the past, this summer.

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