BC Ferries

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British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
Type Organized as a privately held company, with the provincial Crown as sole shareholder
Industry Transportation
Founded Victoria, British Columbia (June 15, 1960)
Headquarters Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Key people Donald P. Hayes, Chair
Michael Corrigan, President & CEO
Products Ferry service
Revenue Increase C$786.3 million (2013)[1]
Operating income Increase C$84.8 million (2013)[1]
Net income Increase C$15.5 million (2013)[1]
Employees 3,153 (2005)
Website www.bcferries.com

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., or BC Ferries (abbreviated BCF) is an independently managed, publicly owned company that provides all major passenger and vehicle ferry services for coastal and island communities in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Set up in 1960 to provide a similar service to that provided by the Black Ball Line and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which were affected by job action at the time, BC Ferries has become the largest passenger ferry line in North America and the second largest in the world,[2] boasting a fleet of 36 vessels with a total passenger and crew capacity of over 27,000, serving 49 locations on the BC coast.

As BC Ferries provides an essential link from mainland British Columbia to the various islands on its routes, it is subsidized by the Government of British Columbia ($151 million in the 2011 fiscal year) and the Government of Canada ($27 million in the 2011 fiscal year).[3] The inland ferries operating on British Columbia's rivers and lakes are not run by BC Ferries. The responsibility for their provision rests with the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation, which contracts operation to various private sector companies.

History[edit]

In the late 1950s, a strike by employees of the Black Ball Line caused the Social Credit government of W. A. C. Bennett to decide that the coastal ferry service in BC needed to be government-owned, and so it set about creating BC Ferries. Minister of Highways Phil Gaglardi was tasked with overseeing the new Crown corporation and its rapid expansion.

Tsawwassen terminal was constructed by filling in a large area at the end of a causeway
Tollbooths at Tsawwassen Terminal
A BC Ferries loading dock (berth 4 at Tsawwassen terminal)
Final loading of cars onto a ferry

BC Ferries' first route, commissioned in 1960, was between Swartz Bay, north of Sidney on Vancouver Island, and Tsawwassen, a part of the Corporation of Delta, using just two vessels. These ships were the now-retired MV Tsawwassen and the MV Sidney. The next few years saw a dramatic growth of the BC ferry system as it took over operations of the Black Ball Line and other major private companies providing vehicle ferry service between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. As the ferry system expanded and started to service other small coastal communities, BC Ferries had to build more vessels, many of them in the first five years of its operations, to keep up with the demand. Another method of satisfying increasing demand for service was BC Ferries' unique "stretch and lift" program, involving seven vessels being cut in half and extended, and five of those vessels later cut in half again and elevated, to increase their passenger and vehicle-carrying capacities. The vast majority of the vessels in the fleet were built in BC waters, with only two foreign purchases and one domestic purchase. In the mid-1980s, BC Ferries took over the operations of the saltwater branch of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Highways, which ran ferry services to very small coastal communities. This action dramatically increased the size of BC Ferries' fleet and its geographical service area. The distinctive "dogwood on green" flag that BC Ferries used between 1960 and 2003 gave the service its popular nickname "the Dogwood Fleet".

At its inception, BC Ferries was a division of the British Columbia Toll Highways and Bridges Authority, a provincial Crown corporation. Through successive reorganizations, it evolved into the British Columbia Ferry Authority and then the British Columbia Ferry Corporation, both of which were also provincial Crown corporations. In 2003, the Government of British Columbia announced that BC Ferries, which had been in debt, would be reorganized into a private corporation, implemented through the passage of the Coastal Ferry Act[4] (Bill 18-2003). The single voting share of BC Ferries Corporation is held by the provincial government's BC Ferry Authority, which operates under the rules of the Act.

During the 1990s, the NDP government commissioned a series of three fast ferries to improve ferry service between the Mainland and Vancouver Island. The ships proved problematic when they suffered many technical issues and cost double what was expected. The fast ferries were eventually sold off for $19.4 million in 2003.

A controversy began in July 2004 when BC Ferries, under a new American CEO, announced that the company had disqualified all Canadian bids to build three new Coastal class ships, and only the proposals from European shipyards were being considered. The contract is estimated at $542 million for the three ships, which are each designed to carry 370 vehicles and 1600 passengers.

The argument for domestic construction of the ferries is that it would employ numerous British Columbia workers, revitalize the sagging BC shipbuilding industry, and entitle the provincial government to a large portion of the cost in the form of taxes. BC Ferries CEO David Hahn claimed that building the ferries in Germany would "save almost $80 million and could lead to lower fares."[5]

On September 17, 2004, BC Ferries awarded[6] the vessel construction contract to Germany's Flensburger shipyard. The contract protects BC Ferries from any delays through a fixed price and fixed schedule contract. Coastal Renaissance entered service in March 2008, while Coastal Inspiration was delivered the same month and entered service in June. The third ship, Coastal Celebration, has been delivered and is now in service as well.

On August 18, 2006, BC Ferries commissioned[7] Flensburger to build a new vessel for its Inside Passage route, with the contract having many of the same types of terms as that for the Coastal Class vessels. The new northern service vessel, Northern Expedition, has been delivered.

In fiscal year 2011, BC Ferries reported a loss of $16.5 million due to declining ridership, with vehicle traffic dropping 3.5% and passenger traffic dropping 2.8%. Increased fares were to blame for the drop in ridership, and warnings came that there would likely be cutbacks in the service on a number of its routes in order to reduce costs.[8]

On August 26, 2012, BC Ferries announced that it would be cutting 98 round trips on its major routes starting in the fall and winter of 2012 as part of a four-year plan to save $1 million on these routes. Service cuts have included the elimination of supplementary sailings on the Swartz Bay–Tsawwassen route, 18 round trips on the Horseshoe Bay–Departure Bay route, and 48 round trips, the largest number of cuts, on the Duke Point–Tsawwassen route, with plans to look for savings on the smaller unprofitable routes in the future.[9]

On November 20, 2012, BC Ferry Services was listed as the 90th most profitable company in BC, with a net income of $3,781,000 in 2011 and $3,422,000 in 2010.[10]

A year later, on November 20, 2013, the government of British Columbia announced plans to eliminate a program that gave free ferry trips to seniors, make major cuts to service on smaller, more remote routes, and undertake a pilot project that would introduce slot machines on ships serving the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route.[11]

Current routes[edit]

List[edit]

Route numbers are used internally by BC Ferries. All routes allow vehicles unless stated otherwise.

Maps[edit]

Numbers in blue circles are ferry route numbers. Provincial highway trailblazers are added where appropriate.

Fleet[edit]

BC Ferries MV Coastal Celebration docked at Swartz Bay, British Columbia terminal in May 2014.
Spirit of British Columbia under construction at Fraser Surrey Docks in September 1992.
Mayne Queen is a Powell River class ferry.
Northern Expedition began service in 2009, replacing the MV Queen of Prince Rupert.

BC Ferries has the largest fleet of vehicle ferry vessels in the world. There are 36 vessels, ranging from small 16-car ferries up to 470-car "superferries". All of the vessels in use by BC Ferries are "roll-on, roll-off" car ferries. Most of the major vessels are based on similar designs, which are aggregated into "classes" of ferries:

Current vessels[edit]

Name Class Year built
(Rebuilt)
Auto capacity Passenger capacity Notes
MV Spirit of British Columbia Spirit 1993 470 2100
MV Spirit of Vancouver Island Spirit 1994 470 2100
MV Coastal Renaissance Coastal 2007 370 1650 World's largest double-ended ferries
MV Coastal Inspiration Coastal 2007 370 1650 World's largest double-ended ferries
MV Coastal Celebration Coastal 2007 370 1650 World's largest double-ended ferries
MV Queen of Coquitlam C 1976 (2003) 362 1470
MV Queen of Cowichan C 1976 (2004) 360 1494
MV Queen of Alberni C 1976 (1984/ 2007) 290 1200 Upper car deck added in 1984
MV Queen of Oak Bay C 1981 (2005) 362 1466
MV Queen of Surrey C 1981 (2006) 362 1466
MV Queen of New Westminster None 1964 (1973/ 1991) 270 1332 Originally a V class ferry when built
MV Queen of Nanaimo Burnaby 1964 (1974) 192 1163 Originally a V class ferry when built
MV Queen of Burnaby Burnaby 1965 (1972) 192 659 Originally a V class ferry when built; sold in 1994 and re-acquired in 2000
MV Northern Expedition None 2009 130 600
MV Northern Adventure None 2004 101 600 Purchased in late-2006 to replace the sunken Queen of the North
MV Queen of Capilano I 1991 85 462
MV Queen of Cumberland I 1992 127 462
MV Island Sky I 2008 125 450
MV Queen of Chilliwack None 1978 115 400 Purchased in 1991
MV Skeena Queen Century 1997 100 600
MV Powell River Queen Powell River 1965 (1979) 68 408 Stretched in 1979 to increase capacity
MV Mayne Queen Powell River 1965 (1979) 70 400 Stretched in 1979 to increase capacity
MV Bowen Queen Powell River 1965 (1979) 70 400 Stretched in 1979 to increase capacity
MV Howe Sound Queen None 1964 (2008) 70 300 Purchased in 1971
MV Quinitsa None 1977 (2008) 50 394 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Quinsam None 1982 (2010) 70 400 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV North Island Princess None 1958 (1971) 49 293 Purchased in 1969; capacity increased in 1971
Sold in 1977, re-acquired in 1985
MV Quadra Queen II T 1969 (2010) 30 293 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Tenaka None 1964 30 244 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Tachek T 1969 30 243 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Klitsa K 1972 26 195 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Kahloke K 1973 30 200 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Kwuna K 1975 26 154 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
MV Kuper K 1985 (2006) 32 269 Purchased in 2006
MV Nicola N 1960 16 133 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985
Owned but not operated by BC Ferries
MV Nimpkish N 1973 16 125 Transferred to BC Ferries in 1985

Former vessels[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The following is a summary of some of the incidents that have occurred involving BC Ferries vessels.

Queen of Victoria[edit]

On August 2, 1970, the Soviet freighter Sergey Yesenin collided with Queen of Victoria in Active Pass, slicing through the middle of the ferry, days after its return to service following stretching. Three people were killed, and damage was estimated at over $1 million (1970 dollars). The Soviet ship was not supposed to be in Active Pass, and as such, the Soviet government was forced to compensate BC Ferries.

Years later, while in Active Pass and within metres of the site of the 1970 collision, Queen of Victoria was disabled by a fire in the engine room.

Queen of Alberni[edit]

On August 9, 1979, Queen of Alberni was transiting through Active Pass when it ran aground on Galiano Island, tipping fifteen degrees to starboard. Several large commercial vehicles on board the vessel at the time were damaged. No persons were injured, but a racehorse on board was killed.

On June 1989, Queen of Alberni collided with the loading dock at Departure Bay, causing significant damage to the ship and dock. Six people were injured, including a cook who suffered a fractured cheekbone as he was walking down a set of stairs.

On March 12, 1992, at 8:08 am (16:08 UTC), Queen of Alberni collided with the Japanese freighter Shinwa Maru southwest of Tsawwassen. The collision occurred in heavy fog, with both vessels suffering minor damage. Injuries included 2 serious and 25 minor injuries for the 260 people on the ferry, while none of the 11 people aboard the freighter received injuries.[12]

Queen of Cowichan[edit]

On August 12, 1985, three people were killed when Queen of Cowichan ran over a pleasure boat near the Horseshoe Bay terminal.

Queen of Saanich[edit]

On the morning of February 6, 1992, Queen of Saanich and the passenger ship Royal Vancouver collided in heavy fog while navigating near the northern entrance of Active Pass. A total of 23 passengers aboard Royal Vancouver were injured. Blame was cast on the crew of Royal Vancouver for failing to track Queen of Saanich on radar, though both vessels were equipped with sophisticated radar systems.

Queen of Nanaimo[edit]

On November 2, 2013, the ship was pushed off course by severe weather as it was leaving the berth at Village Bay, Mayne Island. It damaged a private dock, and no one was injured. There was damage to the ship and all Tsawwassen-Gulf Islands sailings had to be cancelled while it was repaired.[13]

Queen of New Westminster[edit]

In October 1971, Queen of New Westminster pulled out of its berth at the Departure Bay terminal while vehicle loading was in progress. A car and its two occupants fell into the water. Both of the vehicle's occupants were rescued.

In a similar incident, on August 13, 1992, the same vessel pulled out of its berth at the Departure Bay terminal while vehicle loading ramps were still lowered and resting on the ship. Three people were killed, including two children, one was seriously injured, and two others received minor injuries when a van from Alberta containing 6 people fell 15 m (about 50 ft) from the upper deck onto the lower car deck and finally into the sea below. The van had been stopped and instructed to wait on the loading ramp by terminal crew members. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada determined that the accident was caused by the vessel not properly following departing procedures and secondarily due to poor communication between terminal and ship crew members.[14]

Mayne Queen[edit]

On November 7, 1995, Mayne Queen departed from Snug Cove and ran into a neighbouring marina, heavily damaging a floating dock in addition to 12 small pleasure boats, one of which sank. The crash was primarily attributed to human error and while transferring steering and power control from one control panel to the other located in the ship. The vessel's captain was also inexperienced with the Mayne Queen and normally piloted other vessels. More alarming was the fact that the captain promptly left the scene of the accident after the incident without conducting a proper damage assessment.[15]

On August 12, 1996, Mayne Queen departed Swartz Bay terminal and ran aground off Piers Island after losing steering control. The grounding occurred while performing a regular weekly test of the batteries for the steering control system. A crew member overheard there was going to be a test, and in an attempt to be helpful and without direction, cut all power from the vessel's steering batteries, as he had done at night when the ship was stored, not realizing that the test in question only required the removal of a battery charger and that his assistance was neither requested nor required. No one was injured in the incident, and the vessel was assisted off the rocks at high tide, but it suffered extensive damage to its propulsion system, having two of the four steering and propulsion pods for the right-angle drives sheared off and one of the two remaining pods suffering propeller damage.[16]

Spirit of Vancouver Island[edit]

On September 14, 2000, Spirit of Vancouver Island collided with the 9.72 m (about 32 ft) Star Ruby while attempting to overtake the vessel in a narrow channel. The collision occurred approximately 1 km (about ½ mi) from the Swartz Bay Terminal, where the ferry had departed from. Spirit of Vancouver Island struck Star Ruby on its port side, causing the pleasure craft to flip over and eventually right itself, though swamped and heavily damaged. Two passengers aboard Star Ruby later died as a result of injuries sustained by the collision.[17]

On July 13, 2003, Spirit of Vancouver Island collided with the dock at Swartz Bay. Four passengers suffered minor injuries. The accident caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to the dock and the ship.

On October 9, 2009, a standby generator on Spirit of Vancouver Island caught fire on an early morning sailing out of Swartz Bay Terminal. No one was injured in the incident, but it caused major delays in the ferry system because of the already large volume of traffic for Thanksgiving weekend. Eight sailings were cancelled that day, and the ship remained out of service for the weekend.[18]

Queen of Surrey[edit]

On May 12, 2003, Queen of Surrey was disabled as a result of an engine room fire. Queen of Capilano was dispatched and tethered to Queen of Surrey while tugboats were dispatched. The vessel was then towed back to shore. None of the 318 passengers were injured, but several crew members were treated for minor injuries. Some buckling of the main car deck resulted from the heat of the fire, but no vehicles were damaged in the incident.[19]

Queen of Oak Bay[edit]

On June 30, 2005, at about 10:10 a.m. (17:10 UTC), the vessel Queen of Oak Bay, on the NanaimoHorseshoe Bay (Trans-Canada Highway) ferry route, lost power four minutes before it was to dock at the Horseshoe Bay terminal. The vessel became adrift, unable to change speed but able to steer with the rudders. The horn was blown steadily, and an announcement telling passengers to brace for impact was made minutes before the 139 m (456 ft) ship slowly ran into the nearby Sewell's Marina, where it destroyed or damaged 28 pleasure craft and subsequently went aground a short distance from the shore. No casualties or injuries were reported.[20] [21] [22]

On July 1, 2005, BC Ferries issued a statement that Transport Canada, the Transportation Safety Board, and Lloyd's Register of Shipping were reviewing the control and mechanical systems on board to find a fault. An inspection revealed minimal damage to the ship, with only some minor damage to a metal fender, paint scrapes to the rudder, and some minor scrapes to one blade of a propeller.

On July 7, 2005, BC Ferries concluded that a missing cotter pin[disambiguation needed] was to blame. The pin normally retained a nut on a linkage between an engine speed governor and the fuel control for one of the engines. Without the pin, the nut fell off and the linkage separated, causing the engine, clutches, and propellers to increase in speed until overspeed safety devices tripped and shut down the entire propulsion system. The faulty speed governor had been serviced 17 days before the incident during a $35-million upgrade, and the cotter pin had not been properly replaced at that time.

The Queen of Oak Bay was quickly repaired and tested at sea trials. It returned to regular service on July 8, 2005. A complete investigation report consisting of a 14-page Divisional Inquiry and a 28-page Engineering Incident Investigation was released in September 2006.[23]

The Transportation Safety Board's Marine Investigation Report, released on September 6, 2007, indicated that "inadequacies in BC Ferries' procedures on safety-critical maintenance tasks and on ship handling during berthing operations" were major contributing factors to the accident. It appears that insufficient oversight of work done by contractors also played a role in the accident.

Queen of the North[edit]

Main article: Queen of the North

On March 22, 2006, Queen of the North sank 135 km (81 mi, 70 nautical miles) south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, when it struck Gil Island at approximately 1:00 a.m. Two people from 100 Mile House went missing. BC Ferries CEO David Hahn said, "There is a real possibility that they went down with the ship." It is unlikely that it will be possible to salvage Queen of the North.

Officials have determined the cause of the accident was human error by three BC Ferries employees neglecting their navigational duties. Charges of criminal negligence causing death were considered, and a class action lawsuit for the passengers is proceeding while the Ferry and Marine Union seeks to reinstate the fired crew who failed to provide information to the $1 million TSB enquiry.[24]

Quinsam[edit]

On January 9, 2007, Quinsam was loading traffic from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island when it unexpectedly pulled out of its berth. A pickup truck on the boarding ramp plunged into the water below. Ferry workers were able to warn the truck's lone occupant, who was able to escape before the vehicle fell.[25]

Coastal Inspiration[edit]

On December 20, 2011, at 14:50 (21:50 UTC), Coastal Inspiration crashed into the Duke Point terminal, causing minor injuries to one passenger and crew member. The collision damaged the loading ramp, and foot passengers were held up for an hour before being unloaded; the vessel was rerouted to Departure Bay to unload its vehicle traffic.[26] An electrical component failure in the propulsion control system was blamed for the crash.[27] The ferry was taken out of service for repairs before resuming service on January 20, 2012.[28] The damage caused the Duke Point terminal to be closed for five months, resulting in all services from Tsawwassen to be rerouted into Departure Bay. The terminal reopened for service on May 1, 2012.[29]

In film[edit]

Film Year Vessel or Class
Five Easy Pieces 1970 Mill Bay
Food of the Gods 1976 Howe Sound Queen
The Other Side of the Mountain 1978 Queen of Victoria
Shoot To Kill 1988 Queen of Vancouver
Bird On A Wire 1990 Queen of Burnaby or Queen of Nanaimo
Another Stakeout 1993 Powell River Class
Mr. Magoo 1997 Queen of Esquimalt
Disturbing Behavior 1998 Queen of Capilano
Double Jeopardy 1999 Quadra Queen II
Black Point 2002 Mill Bay
Scary Movie 3 2003 Powell River Class
Battlestar Galactica Miniseries 2003 V-Class
Walking Tall 2004 Albert J Savoie
Elektra 2005 Albert J Savoie
The Mermaid Chair 2006 Mill Bay
The Suite Life Movie 2011 Northern Expedition
The Killing 2012 Queen of Capilano

See also[edit]

Shipyards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "BC Ferries Posts Positive Year-End Results" (PDF). June 21, 2013. p. 5. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Vancouver Tours: Victoria & Butchart Gardens Bus & Ferry Tour from Vancouver". Retrieved August 31, 2011. "Crossing the Fraser River Delta and through the agricultural land surrounding Metro Vancouver this short half hour drive ends at the BC Ferries Terminal where your bus will drive right onto a ship belonging to the second largest ferry fleet in the world." 
  3. ^ BCF Annual Report 2011. (PDF) . Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  4. ^ Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Leg.bc.ca. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  5. ^ "Construction to begin in Germany...". Professional Mariner (Oct/Nov 2005). 2005. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ Microsoft Word – 04-071 Super C.doc. Bcferries.com (June 21, 2012). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  7. ^ Media Room | BC Ferries – British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. BC Ferries (June 21, 2012). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  8. ^ "BC Ferries reports $16.5 million net loss as ridership drops". CBC News. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "B.C. Ferries to cut back on sailings". The Province. 26 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Top 100 most profitable companies in B.C.". Business in Vancouver. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on Shinwa Maru/Queen of Alberni collision[dead link]
  13. ^ http://www.timescolonist.com/mayne-island-ferry-mishap-knocks-out-service-to-tsawwassen-for-at-least-a-week-1.683075
  14. ^ Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on ''Queen of New Westminster'' accident. Tsb.gc.ca (July 31, 2008). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  15. ^ Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on 1995 Mayne Queen accident[dead link]
  16. ^ Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on 1996 Mayne Queen accident[dead link]
  17. ^ Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on Spirit of Vancouver Island accident[dead link]
  18. ^ CBC News Report on the incident. Cbc.ca (October 10, 2009). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  19. ^ Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on Queen of Surrey engine fire[dead link]
  20. ^ "B.C. ferry runs aground in West Vancouver, hits marina and boats". The Seattle Times. June 30, 2005. 
  21. ^ "B.C. ferry that hit marina 'just kept coming'". CBC News. July 1, 2005. 
  22. ^ ''Queen of Oak Bay'' Collision Simulator. Boomcity.biz (July 27, 2005). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  23. ^ BC Ferries Corporation (September 25, 2006). Queen of Oak Bay Grounding at Sewell’s Marina: Divisional Inquiry and Engineering Incident Investigation.
  24. ^ Divisional Inquiry. BC Ferries. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  25. ^ Truck rolls into harbour when Nanaimo ferry leaves dock early. Cbc.ca (January 10, 2007). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  26. ^ "B.C. Ferries vessel crashes into dock at Duke Point". Nanaimo Daily News. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "Duke Point crash caused by electrical failure in propulsion system". Nanaimo Bulletin. 10 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  28. ^ "Swartz Bay crash cost BC Ferries $470,000". Canada.com. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  29. ^ "B.C. Ferries announces Duke Point terminal to resume operations May 1". Nanaimo Daily News. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  • Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. The Ships of British Columbia – An Illustrated History of the British Columbia Ferry Corporation. Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 1985

Press releases[edit]

External links[edit]