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

Langley house linked to crimes targeted for forfeiture

The province seized part of the home’s sale price

LETTER: Tax increases from other agencies unacceptable

As promised, Langley City reduced its portion of tax bill – what about other levels of government

LETTER: Langley resident calls on public to use distancing

A worker in the long-term care field notes that people can have no symptoms but spread COVID-19

Langley quilters save fundraising raffle after quilt show plans unravel

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of May’s quilt show which was more than a year in the planning

Langley kids bust out the paints and crayons to bring cheer to seniors

Campaign resulted in more than 600 letters and art created to let seniors know they are not alone

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Most Read