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Texada (Blubber Bay) - Comox (Little River) direct service pilot

On February 19, 2020 we launched a pilot offering direct service on select days between Blubber Bay terminal on Texada Island and Little River terminal in Comox. BC Ferries developed this pilot in cooperation with the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee for the convenience of Texada Island travellers.

Since the pilot was launched we have been listening to feedback from customers and employees on the route. Thank you for your patience and input as we continue to learn and make changes based on early results of the pilot. We all share the goal of making this pilot successful while minimizing the effect on the regular service of this route.
Texada Island (Blubber Bay) - Comox (Little River) Schedule
Every Wednesday and Saturday, the first sailing departing Westview terminal in Powell River will make a stop at Blubber Bay to load vehicle and foot passengers, prior to continuing on to Little River terminal in Comox. On the last sailing every Wednesday and Saturday departing from Comox, Texada Island - bound customers will have the opportunity to sail directly to Blubber Bay.

> View schedule.

Travelling on the direct service
The direct service provided by this pilot is non-reservable. Customers will be boarded on the sailing based on the order they arrived at the terminal. Comox (Little River) bound customers boarding at Texada Island (Blubber Bay) will pay their fares on board the vessel at the cashier. Texada-bound customers will purchase their fares at Comox (Little River) terminal. There are 10 guaranteed spots for standard vehicles on the direct service sailings from Comox (Little River) and Texada Island (Blubber Bay) terminals. Customers will be loaded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Additional vehicles in excess of the guaranteed 10 will be loaded at Texada Island (Blubber Bay) if deck space is available and accessible. The crew on board will decide if there is space for more than 10 vehicles. They base their decision to load more vehicles on safety parameters and maintaining on-time performance. There is no guarantee that more than 10 vehicles will be loaded. There are no limits in effect for walk-on passengers.

For Texada Island (Blubber Bay) bound passengers, the guarantee of 10 vehicle spaces reserved at the Comox (Little River) ferry terminal remains in place, even if more than 10 vehicles were loaded at Texada Island (Blubber Bay) earlier that same day. However, if additional vehicles bound for Texada Island (Blubber Bay) via Powell River (Westview) arrive at the Comox (Little River) terminal they may be discharged at Texada, at the discretion of the crew, under the following conditions:
  • They are ticketed to travel through to Powell River (Westview).
  • They are in an area on the vehicle deck the allows for safe and efficient unloading at Texada Island (Blubber Bay) without affecting other Powell River-bound vehicles.
There is no guarantee of additional vehicles being unloaded at Blubber Bay and they are not eligible for any fare refund if unloaded there.

Customers departing from Texada Island:
Customers departing from Blubber Bay should stage their vehicles in the small lot off the left side of the road just prior to reaching the terminal. The lot will have signage indicating it is in use for these specific sailings, and customers are required to arrive a minimum of 30 minutes prior to scheduled sailing time. A staff member will direct vehicles from the lot when the vessel is ready to load. Customers will pay fares at the cashier in the Coastal Café on board the vessel. Fares are as follows:
  • $35 for standard vehicle
  • $10.95 for the driver, adult passengers in a vehicle or adult foot passengers
  • B.C. seniors travelling on Wednesdays when the senior discount applies, will pay $35 for the vehicle only
  • The Experience™ Card will not be available as an on board payment method
Cash, credit and debit are acceptable payment methods on board.

Customers departing from Little River:
Customers departing from Little River also must arrive a minimum of 30 minutes prior to sailing time and will pay fares at the ticket booth prior to being directed to an applicable staging lane. Fares for the 10 guaranteed vehicles are as follows:
  • $35 for standard vehicles
  • $13.50 for adult passengers ($10.95 with Experience Card)
Note that all Texada Island (Blubber Bay) bound vehicles over the guaranteed allocation of 10 will pay the regular fare for the Comox (Little River) - Powell River (Westview) route (see 'Travelling on direct service' above). Current payment methods include cash, credit and Experience™ Card.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is this pilot happening?
A. The Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) for Powell River and Texada Island submitted a request for direct service between Blubber Bay and Little River. Working with the FAC, we have developed a pilot that will provide a direct link between Blubber Bay and Comox (Little River) by stopping at Blubber Bay two days a week using the Salish Class ferry that services the route between Comox (Little River) to Powell River (Westview). This service will provide Texada Island residents with direct access to Comox instead of having to travel to Powell River first.

Q. When did the pilot start?
A. The first opportunity to travel on these new sailings will be Wednesday, February 19, 2020.

Q. How many sailings will there be?
A.
  • The first sailing of the day on Wednesday and Saturdays from Powell River (Westview) will pick up customers in Blubber Bay wishing to travel to Comox (Little River)
  • The last sailing of the day on Wednesday and Saturdays from Comox (Little River) will make a stop at Blubber Bay on its way to Powell River (Westview) to drop off Texada Island customers
> View schedule.

Q. What are the fares for travelling between Texada Island and Comox?
A. Fares for the direct service pilot are $35 for a standard vehicle, $10.95 for drivers, adult passengers in a vehicle and walk-on adult passengers. These fares apply to all customer departures from Texada Island (Blubber Bay) and up to the guaranteed allocation of 10 vehicles at Comox (Little River). See above for conditions for Texada-bound vehicles above the guarantee of 10. All Blubber Bay (Texada) bound vehicles over the guaranteed allocation of 10 will pay the regular fare for the Little River (Comox) – Westview (Powell River) route. Find fare information here.

The free BC Seniors walk-on passenger fare applies to Wednesday departures, BC Seniors will only pay the $35 fare for a vehicle on this day. Fares are collected for one way travel only. Customers boarding at Blubber Bay pay their fares on board the ferry at the cashier in the Coastal Café.

NOTE: TAPs forms will be accepted as payment for all sailings.

Q. How do I travel on this new service?
A. The direct service provided by this pilot is non-reservable. Customers will be boarded on the sailing based on the order they arrived at the terminal. Comox (Little River) bound customers boarding at Texada Island (Blubber Bay) will pay their fares on board the vessel at the cashier. Texada Island - bound customers will purchase their fares at Little River terminal. Deck space for 10 vehicles will be provided in each direction during the pilot on a first-come, first-served basis. Space over and above the guaranteed 10 vehicle spots will be made available at the discretion of the crew on board based on safety and on-time performance factors. There are no limits in effect for walk-on passengers.

Q. Can more than 10 vehicles be loaded if there is lots of space on board?
A. There are 10 guaranteed spots available for vehicles on the direct service sailings to and from Blubber Bay on Texada Island. These spots are allocated on a first-come, first served basis. The crew on board will decide if there is space for more than 10 vehicles. They base their decision to load more vehicles on safety parameters and maintaining on-time performance. There is no guarantee that more than 10 vehicles will be loaded. There are no limits in effect for walk-on passengers. As the pilot progresses, all factors of the pilot, including the vehicle allocations, will be reviewed with the Ferry Advisory Committee to ensure it is meeting the needs of all communities.

Q. Why is there a limit on the number of vehicles that can take the direct service?
A. Setting aside a guarantee of 10 spaces at all three terminals provides travel certainty and consistency for customers. The same number of vehicles are loaded every sailing. The loading and unloading of vehicles at Blubber Bay terminal takes time, and is dependent on factors such as how many and what type of vehicles are on board, as well as how they are staged on the vehicle decks. Setting a limit on the number of vehicles ensures sailings remain on schedule for all customers. Also, customers boarding at Blubber Bay pay fares on board, and the crew must have sufficient time to process all transactions prior to arrival in Comox. Another reason for limiting the number of vehicles on each sailing is related to roadway safety. Vehicles arriving for these sailings line up in areas with restricted holding space. Limiting the number of vehicles minimizes the risk of safety hazards and congestion on local roadways near the terminal. Finally, the stops at Blubber Bay are a modification of a regular route that BC Ferries is required to provide as a part of the Coastal Ferries Services Contract. We are obligated to provide sufficient capacity between Comox (Little River) and Powell River (West view) and it is our responsibility to ensure that this pilot does not interfere with that service.

Q. Is this service available to book for commercial, bus or motorcycle travel?
A. No. Due to space and loading constraints, buses, commercial vehicles and motorcycles cannot book travel on the direct service at this time. The primary objective of the pilot is to give Texada Island residents direct access to Comox. The pilot is available to private vehicles for personal travel. Private over-height vehicles may also travel on this direct service, the maximum length for a private vehicle (under-height or over-height) for the pilot will be 25 feet.

Q. When should I show up at the terminal?
A. At least 30 minutes prior to the sailing, and not more than 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Customers boarding on Texada Island should stage their vehicles in the small lot off the left side of the road just prior to reaching the terminal. The lot will have signage indicating it is in use for these specific sailings, and a staff member will direct vehicles from the lot when the vessel is ready to load.

Q. Does this pilot impact or change the service from Powell River (Westview) to Blubber Bay on board the North Island Princess?
A. No. There are no conflicts with the service provided by the North Island Princess. It will continue to provide service as normal.

How long will the pilot last?
The pilot will be in place for up to two years with ongoing analysis of its viability. Success of the pilot will be measured by a number of factors including the mitigation of additional costs, how well used the sailings are, fare payments, effectiveness of the modified schedule, ongoing safe and secure operations and continued support from all communities involved.