About BC Ferries

Southern Gulf Islands Schedule Consultation

Phase 4 - Schedules Published

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the schedules changing?

BC Ferries will be introducing two new Salish Class vessels: the Salish Eagle and the Salish Raven, in the Southern Gulf Islands region in 2017. These sister-ships, powered by natural gas, will allow BC Ferries to better match capacity with demand, while contributing to fare affordability and sustainability.

The upcoming introduction of these new vessels was the ideal time to revisit the sailing schedules for the area to better align customers’ needs, while balancing capacity with demand and the seasonality of ferry travel.

What are the benefits of the new Salish Class vessels?

The Salish Class vessels will run as dual fuel, capable of using natural gas or ultra-low sulphur marine diesel. The adoption of natural gas reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 15-25%, reduces sulphur oxides (SOx) by over 85%, reduces nitrogen oxides (NOx) by over 50%, which translates to much cleaner exhaust emissions than diesel fuel.

BC Ferries’ use of natural gas for the Salish Class vessels results in the reduction of an estimated 9,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, the same as taking 1,900 passenger vehicles off the road annually.

How did BC Ferries determine the changes to the new schedules?

In April 2015, BC Ferries embarked on a year-long process conducting public consultations to review schedules between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands. This process included surveys, public meetings and small working group sessions with local community representatives.

What is the Southern Gulf Islands Schedule Consultation Process?

The Southern Gulf Islands Schedule Consultation Process is a public consultation that consisted of four phases to determine the new schedules for the Southern Gulf Islands.

Phase 1 – Understanding the Need – Spring 2015

  • Web survey
  • Data collection & analysis

Phase 2 – Exploring Options – Summer/Fall 2015

  • Public open houses
  • Web survey
  • Data collection & analysis

Phase 3 – Schedule Modifications – Winter 2016

  • Based on survey feedback

Phase 4 – Schedules Published – Summer 2016

  • Schedules accessible online

What are the routes that apply to the new schedules?

The new schedules apply to the following routes:

Tsawwassen to/from Pender Island, Mayne Island, Saturna Island, Galiano Island, and Salt Spring Island

Swartz Bay to/from Pender Island, Mayne Island, Saturna Island, and Galiano Island

Inter-Island Travel between Pender Island, Mayne Island, Saturna Island, Galiano Island, and Salt Spring Island

What are the changes that have been made to the new schedules when travelling to and from Tsawwassen?

In the peak season, there will be more sailing opportunities and a 46% increase in capacity in the system. There are more direct sailing opportunities on the weekends and inter-island connections are maintained on weekdays. The new schedules with two Salish Class vessels will result in increased sailing opportunities.

Before and after the summer, the second vessel continues to operate offering a better balance of capacity with demand, primarily boosting weekend service with additional sailings and capacity. This shoulder season service (pre and post summer) has been expanded to start at the beginning of May and finish on the Thanksgiving weekend.

The off-peak schedules remain similar to the current service with additional sailings on busy days and new timings to facilitate connecting sailings.

What are the changes that have been made to the new schedules when travelling to and from Swartz Bay?

Swartz Bay to Southern Gulf Islands service has been optimized to work with the new Salish Class vessels.

Adjustments to the schedule during the busier months will help in maintaining on-time departures and arrivals.

The larger vessel will stop more often at ports where there is greater demand.

Departure times have been adjusted to allow for Tsawwassen connections.

Does this apply to Dangerous Cargo sailings?

Yes, Dangerous Cargo sailings have been scheduled year round on Sunday mornings with no seasonal changes that disrupt Monday and Wednesday travel.

Does Thru Fare apply to the new schedules?

Yes, a pilot program for Thru Fare customers (Tsawwassen travellers going via Swartz Bay) was introduced to improve the connectivity to Southern Gulf Islands ferries.  The response to date has been extremely positive and success of the pilot will further enhance travel opportunities for customers.

When are the new schedules in effect?

The new schedules are effective May 2017.

Where can I view the new schedules?

To view the new schedules, visit www.bcferries.com/about/publicconsultation2/sgi-consultation-materials.html

The new schedules will be available on our Southern Gulf Islands schedule pages in October 2016.