Editorial: Undue ferry mayhem


Smooth sailing can’t always be guaranteed with the world’s largest ferry system.

But the chaos that has reigned for Gulf Islands ferry travellers for the past two weeks has made for an unduly choppy voyage for many. It’s hard to believe that temporarily replacing one vessel with a 112-car capacity from its route has been so difficult to manage.

Since the Queen of Cumberland was taken out of service after an April 18 training exercise incident led to the vessel needing repairs, BC Ferries has cobbled together a replacement service that has used the Skeena Queen, Bowen Queen and Salish Eagle. As of this week, the augmenting vessels will be Mayne and Skeena queens and the Salish Eagle and Raven.

Some schedule changes have also been required. Pender resident Andrew Cameron is one of the travellers questioning the plan BC Ferries put in place, as outlined in a letter to the Driftwood and BC Ferries. His observations on how some of the sailings could be improved make sense.

But the most troubling aspect of the situation has been garbled communications. Trusting the posted online schedule has been difficult, with some travellers reporting sailings taking place that were not scheduled, while other expected sailings did not occur. This situation underscores how a website redesign for BC Ferries is long overdue, as altered schedules and service notices are difficult to locate and decipher in an already confusing mix.

It seems as if the best one can do these days is arrive at a terminal and hope a ferry will eventually reach the desired destination. That is not, however, good enough for a world-class transportation service.

We have sympathy for those at BC Ferries trying to make the most of a bad situation, but feel worse for islanders and visitors trying to get to where they need to go. 

One thing’s for certain: Until the Queen of Cumberland is back in service, ferry travellers should be wary and wise. Check the online schedule and service notices, or better yet, phone BC Ferries to get the most up-to-date sailing information. 

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