File photo

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

More B.C. Ferries sailings could be cancelled as riders are staying away during a time of social distancing and self-isolation.

The ferry corporation is in Phase 4 of its pandemic response plan, which involves reduction to carrying essential traffic only as well as potential changes to sailing and shift schedules, according to the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union website.

There is a threshold of a certain number of sick employees that would have triggered Phase 4, but Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said that wasn’t the case.

“We are seeing an increase in absenteeism, that’s for sure, but the trigger is due to the downturn in traffic,” she said.

Marshall said there was one sailing on the Earls Cove-Saltery Bay route this week that was cancelled due to a crewing issue, but that’s all so far.

“We are closely looking at our workforce and reviewing our service levels,” she said.

B.C. Ferries confirmed earlier this week that one worker based out of Tsawwassen contracted COVID-19, though he didn’t work on public areas of the ship and his contact was limited to seven co-workers. The union advised members that the employee worked in the engineering department on the Spirit of British Columbia vessel.

Ferry travel has been decreasing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of the week, B.C. Ferries CEO Mark Collins said ferry traffic was down about 40 per cent, and then on Wednesday, March 25, the ferry corporation asked people to avoid non-essential ferry trips.

“Because what we’re seeing in our traffic now, we are down about 55-65 per cent in vehicles and about 70-80 per cent in passengers, depending on the route,” Marshall said Friday, March 27.

She noted that B.C. Ferries has announced some service reductions for April on major routes as well as sailings to and from the southern Gulf Islands. More service reductions are being considered.

“We’re looking at it right now and we’ll update our customers with any new information,” Marshall said.

Though B.C. Ferries has asked people to avoid non-essential travel, Collins said a more strict travel ban, if necessary, would come from the government or the provincial health officer and “it’s not for us to decide whether a marine highway stays open or closed.”

He did say that the ferries need to keep running regardless, so B.C. Ferries will take care of workers so that they feel safe coming to work.

“We’ve got to get those trucks across. You’ve got to keep the food moving, keep the toilet paper moving and keep those critical supplies moving, not just to Vancouver Island, but all the little islands as well,” Collins said. “I’m really proud of [ferry workers]. They’re going to work in the face of the virus so that people can have the critical supplies.”

READ ALSO: B.C. Ferries halts all food service as sandwiches go uneaten amid COVID-19

READ ALSO: B.C. Ferries stops serving hot food on vessels as COVID-19 response

READ ALSO: People now allowed to stay in cars on B.C. Ferries to avoid COVID-19 spread



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hope Mountain Centre shuts down summer programs amid COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Difficult to maintain physical distance, safety of attendees and staff, at popular summer events

Potential for gravel removal this summer in Chilliwack has riled river stewards

Group says no ‘discernible merit’ for gravel mining when balanced off with the environmental damage

Drug-pricing petition garners thousands of signatures

Petition started by Chilliwack mom also drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

Ken Monkhouse, ‘Monkey’ on Highway Thru Hell TV show, passes away

Monkhouse passed away Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Harrison Hot Springs Resort eases in to reopening

Reservations available Friday, May 29

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

BREAKING: Langley Gabby’s Country Cabaret announces ‘heartbreaking’ permanent closure

Owner Steve Gallagher ‘holds out hope’ of a new future for the 35-year-old nightlife hotspot

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read