BC Ferry deputy commissioner Alan Eastwood has given BC Ferries the green light to offer a reduced summer schedule on its northern routes for the next 60 days.
Mr. Eastwood’s decision is dated May 17, just one day before the new summer schedule took effect. It authorizes the service reduction on routes 10 and 11 (between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, and Prince Rupert and Skidegate) from May 18 until July 16, and says the authorization may be extended following a review of BC Ferries’ search for a replacement vessel.
BC Ferries has already announced that the reduced schedule will be in effect until the end of September. Due to the loss of the Queen of the North, the company can’t offer the almost-daily sailings on both routes which it normally does during the peak summer season. It has decided to serve both routes with the Queen of Prince Rupert, offering about half the usual number of sailings.
However, the QPR will have more space than usual because commercial traffic to the islands will be carried on a regularly-scheduled barge instead of the ferry. The barge will make three weekly round trips between Rupert and the islands, and is intended only for hostled commercial vehicles. Private vehicles and commercial vehicles with a driver must travel on the QPR, according to BC Ferries.
Even though BC Ferries is offering only half the number of sailings it is supposed to under its contract with the provincial government, Mr. Eastwood ordered that the price cap remain the same.
Meanwhile, BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall has clarified the company’s offer to medical travellers, which the Observer reported on last week. BC Ferries is offering to fly medical passengers one way only, either to or from Prince Rupert by floatplane. The other leg of the journey must be done by ferry.
The offer is intended to make the mainland stay shorter, as the revised schedule means that there can be as many as four days with no ferry service between the islands and Rupert.
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