By Heather Ramsay–BC Ferries will review the Alliford Bay-Skidegate service later this year, but have no dates set.
“We have planned a review of the service, including point of assembly and the schedule, which will involve a public consultation process,” says BC Ferries spokesperson Ann Carpenter.
Ms Carpenter says the schedule and service levels are set until the end of the current contract, which is in 2008.
She said any changes to that schedule would require approval of the Ministry of Transportation.
She also says BC Ferries received faxes from island residents, about 100 in total. She wants to assure people that the barge schedule during the refit is due to financial reasons and is not reflective of future plans for the Kwuna.
“We are paid a fee for service and we had to stay within that, otherwise we would be running into financial overdraft, which we are not able to do,” says Ms Carpenter.
During the refit, BC Ferries has contracted a tug and barge operation to service the route on a revised schedule. This schedule provides the same number of round trips as the regular schedule, but over a 13-hour day instead of a 16-hour day.
“The options for replacement vessels was limited. We received only one expression of interest, from the tug and barge,” she says.
The refit focuses the installation of new engines, replacing generators, and upgrading the hydraulic system for the Kwuna’s ramps.
“The new engines will provide a more robust and reliable ship,” she says.
“There will be no structural changes,” she added referring to rumours that a super-structure is being added to the ship, so BC Ferries can begin charging for over height vehicles.
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