About BC Ferries

President's Message

October 11, 2017

Mark Collins, President & CEO of BC FerriesThere is nothing more important to me, and to the employees of BC Ferries, than the safety of our customers. Earlier this year, we announced a policy change that we know impacts some of our customers, and I want you to know that the sole reason for the change is to improve our safety efforts further. If you missed the announcement, we said that starting in October 2017, passengers in vehicles parked on the lower closed car decks of our large vessels will need to leave their vehicles for the duration of the voyage and come upstairs to the passenger lounges.

The good news is that the majority of our customers already do this. But a small number of our customers prefer to remain in their vehicles for a variety of reasons, and for these customers, I’d like to explain why we are making the change now, and how we plan to mitigate its impact on you, where we can.

BC Ferries is regulated by Transport Canada, and as such, we must adhere to the regulations they set for ferry travel.

Since 2007, BC Ferries has been considered to be compliant with Transport Canada’s regulation because we maintained a continuous car deck patrol. BC Ferries and Transport Canada recently re-examined this policy and determined that patrolling the car decks, which will still take place even with the new regulations in place, doesn’t go far enough in ensuring passenger safety. The rest of the Canadian ferry industry doesn’t allow passengers on closed car decks, and Transport Canada determined it was time to harmonize safety practices, with all Canadian ferry operators needing to comply with this restriction. The exceptions are for ambulances, other emergency vehicles and livestock carriers, whose drivers can remain with their vehicles.

Transport Canada does allow passengers to remain in their vehicles on the more open, upper car decks of our large vessels. If there was a very serious incident that required evacuation of passengers from the vessel, passengers on the lower deck would have no way to leave the vessel from the lower deck, and would be a far distance from the vessel’s lifesaving equipment, making evacuation considerably more difficult.

To mitigate the impact on the minority of passengers who prefer to remain in their vehicle, either because they are travelling with a pet, or they may have mobility issues, or just do not feel well enough to come upstairs, we invite you to identify yourselves when you check in at the ticket booth and let our employees know that you would prefer to be parked on the upper car deck. Where we have space and can accommodate you, we certainly will. We ask that you come early, or make a reservation, to better ensure your vehicle will be parked on the upper deck.

We ask for your understanding as we implement these changes to comply with Transport Canada’s safety regulations. Thanks for listening.


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