BC Ferries abruptly cancels trial for Sunshine Coast route changes in the face of public pushback

·2 min read
BC Ferries says it will not proceed with a trial to change the way it sails between Horseshoe Bay and the Langdale Ferry Terminal. (John Farrer - image credit)
BC Ferries says it will not proceed with a trial to change the way it sails between Horseshoe Bay and the Langdale Ferry Terminal. (John Farrer - image credit)

BC Ferries says it will not proceed with a trial to test major changes to BC Ferries' route from the Lower Mainland to the Sunshine Coast.

The announcement is an about face from the corporation after it announced details of the project last week.

On Friday, BC Ferries said in a news release the issue had become divisive which was not the intent of the project.

The plan included vehicle tolls at the Langdale ferry terminal near Gibsons which was previously free, making 95 per cent of vessel space reservable and reducing fees on less popular sailings. The trial was set to begin in June.

The announcement quickly garnered backlash through a petition, which suggested the trial would negatively affect thousands of Sunshine Coast residents.

The corporation wanted to test the changes, saying they weren't intended to be a permanent solution to frustrations over the route known as Route 3.

Complaints about the route include insufficient capacity, not enough sailings and too many sailing waits.

'More community conversation is needed'

Now the corporation will operate the route without changes, with plans to have more consultations about improving service in the future.

"It is evident that the issues are complex and more community conversation is needed before change can be considered," said Mark Collins, president and CEO of BC Ferries in the release.

The trial was endorsed by the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the Town of Gibsons, and the District of Sechelt.

Lori Pratt, chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, said that some residents were concerned about bookings for 95 per cent of the space on ferries. They worried that commuter delays in Metro Vancouver could result in travellers missing their sailing home.

The plan to collect fares from drivers on the Langdale side was also criticised over concern that vehicles would become backed up and impede traffic in the area.