WATCH: Legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey talks about BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s announcement to keep the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay ferry route in place.
UPDATE: Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo-Departure Bay ferry route will be staying along with both Nanaimo ferry terminals. He made the announcement just after 3 p.m. during an official call to the BC Legislative press gallery.
BC Ferries is floating the idea of scrapping the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay route, a move which is likely to be extremely unpopular with riders.
The idea is contained in the ferry corporation’s Major Routes Strategy.
Ferry traffic from mid and Vancouver Island would go through the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route. BC Ferries stresses any changes wouldn’t take place for five to seven years.
The Horseshoe Bay terminal would still exist, but only to serve Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast.
The crown corporation cites a required $200 million in upgrades at the Horseshoe Bay terminal as a reason for axing the route.
BC Ferries says the required upgrades are the biggest capital expenditure outside of the new vessels the ferry corporation has already committed to purchasing. The first of those new vessels will go into service in mid-2016.
The Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route is one of only two routes that is profitable for the ferry corporation.
Ferries says that with the opening of the South Fraser Perimeter Road, it’s much easier for travelers to access Highway 1. But anyone coming over from Vancouver Island to visit Vancouver or the North Shore will now face a much longer travel time to get downtown from Tsawwassen.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone says he asked the ferry corporation to come up with money saving ideas to help drive down fares.
“There are some pretty significant capital challenges at BC Ferries,” says Stone. “One of the concepts is to challenge the status quo of having two terminals in Nanaimo.”
“BC Ferries would like to look at whether or not there could be some changes made on the Nanaimo side in terms of consolidating terminals.”
BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan is promising public consultations on the proposal next year.
VIDEO: Your reaction to the proposed cuts by BC Ferries