Island Class Scheduling Engagement

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An Island Class ferry coming into dock in Campbell River.

We are getting ready to introduce four new Island class ships to our Campbell River - Quadra Island, and Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island routes in early 2022. With two new Island Class vessels slated to serve each route, we will be able to double the frequency of sailings during peak times, and significantly increase capacity overall on both routes. With more frequent service, wait times should also be reduced, mitigating congestion on local roads during peak times. To help us establish new schedules that support this improved service we invited feedback on proposed schedules. The results of this engagement can be found in the 'Documents' section of the page to the right, and the latest project updates can be found below.

The Island Class vessels are a critical part of our movement towards more sustainable operations and use some of the most advanced clean marine technology in the world. The vessels are designed for full electric operation in the future, once shore charging infrastructure and funding become available. Currently, they are fitted with hybrid technology that bridges the gap until that time. Introducing these ferries into local waters immediately reduces airborne emissions and underwater radiated noise, and offers a more comfortable and accessible travel experience for customers. You can learn more about the ships' features here.

We are getting ready to introduce four new Island class ships to our Campbell River - Quadra Island, and Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island routes in early 2022. With two new Island Class vessels slated to serve each route, we will be able to double the frequency of sailings during peak times, and significantly increase capacity overall on both routes. With more frequent service, wait times should also be reduced, mitigating congestion on local roads during peak times. To help us establish new schedules that support this improved service we invited feedback on proposed schedules. The results of this engagement can be found in the 'Documents' section of the page to the right, and the latest project updates can be found below.

The Island Class vessels are a critical part of our movement towards more sustainable operations and use some of the most advanced clean marine technology in the world. The vessels are designed for full electric operation in the future, once shore charging infrastructure and funding become available. Currently, they are fitted with hybrid technology that bridges the gap until that time. Introducing these ferries into local waters immediately reduces airborne emissions and underwater radiated noise, and offers a more comfortable and accessible travel experience for customers. You can learn more about the ships' features here.

  • Project Update - October 4, 2021

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    Spring schedule changes coming soon

    Extra frequency and capacity delivered by the two new Island Class ferries on the Campbell River – Quadra Island and Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island routes are coming soon. Schedules will be available online shortly.


    How we’ve responded to community feedback

    Earlier this year we engaged with communities on draft schedules for the Campbell River – Quadra Island and Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island routes. We made adjustments based on the feedback we heard and will continue to review the schedules as the ships and crew settle into their new routines.

    Here’s what we heard from the communities, and how we responded:



    Feedback from Campbell River – Quadra Island

    Community feedback

    How we’ve responded

    Include a sailing around 5pm to help accommodate commuter traffic

    We have included a sailing at 5:30pm and 6:00pm from Sunday to Friday

    Provide service on the hour and half-hour to make it easy for people to remember sailing times

    We have scheduled sailings as close to the hour and half-hour as possible, taking into consideration operational requirements such as crew meal breaks and hand over processes between watches.

    Be aware of the impacts of the new schedule on Cortes Island residents

    We have maintained the Cortes Island schedule as it is today and are offering more opportunities to connect through to Vancouver Island than we do today.


    We believe the connections will remain uninterrupted for Cortes residents. We will be watching this closely and working with the FAC to make any adjustments required once the vessels are in service.

    Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle peak traffic

    With two vessels running up to twice as often, we expect that traffic will clear more quickly and waits will be shorter during peak travel times.

    Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle the weather conditions on this route

    The Island Class vessels have similar weather handling capabilities to our Spirit and Coastal Class vessels that sail between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.


    The Island Class sailed from the shipyard in Romania to Victoria under their own power and have successfully sailed in challenging weather conditions on other routes for more than a year. We are confident they can handle the winter weather conditions present on any of our inter-island routes.


    Other community questions included:

    What are the plans for electrification of the vessels?

    The Island Class are fitted for full electric operation once shore charging infrastructure is available. We continue to work on the long-term plans for full electrification of the vessels.



    Feedback from Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island

    Community feedback

    How we’ve responded

    Add a sailing in the early morning commute/school time to accommodate demand

    We continue to focus on the schedule that was presented in the spring. Operational experience will confirm loading, unloading and transit times and adjustments to the published schedule are possible pending the outcomes of these activities.

    Close the gap in evening sailing times to provide an additional opportunity for commuters and school children to return home at the end of the day

    Close the mid-day gap in sailing times

    Create ability to load and unload walk on passengers via a separate walkway

    We are building a separate passenger walkway at the Nanaimo Harbour terminal to make loading and unloading more efficient.

    Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle peak traffic

    With two vessels running twice as often, we expect traffic to clear more quickly and any sailing waits will be shorter during peak travel times.

    Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle the weather conditions on this route

    The Island Class vessels have similar weather handling capabilities as our Spirit and Coastal Class vessels that sail between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.


    The Island Class sailed from the shipyard in Romania to Victoria under their own power and have successfully sailed in challenging weather conditions on other routes for more than a year. We are confident they can handle the winter weather conditions present on any of our inter-island routes.


    Other community questions included:

    How will the new vessels impact the ability to carry commercial traffic on this route?

    The extra ship will increase capacity for vehicles and provide more sailing opportunities for commercial traffic. Overall, the higher capacity will reduce the competing needs for deck space between smaller vehicles and larger commercial vehicles. Combined, we expect these factors will reduce the likelihood and potential impact of sailing waits for all vehicles.


    Where will the second Island Class vessel be tied up when it is not in service?

    The second Island Class vessel will be tied up at the Nanaimo Harbour Authority’s Visiting Vessel Pier on Cameron Island when it is not in service. We expect the vessel to have minimal impact on nearby residents as lights, generators etc. will not be running while the vessel is at dock. We are in direct contact with the strata councils on Cameron Island to communicate our plans and answer any questions or concerns residents may have.


    What are the plans for electrification of the vessels?

    The Island Class are fitted for full electric operation once shore charging infrastructure is available. We continue to work on the long-term plans for full electrification of the vessels.



    Schedules will be reviewed over the coming months

    We will continue to evaluate the new Island Class schedules through the first few months of service. This evaluation period provides us with an opportunity to make adjustments as the ships and crew settle into their new routines.

    We will be conducting further trials on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route to give us more information about crossing and in-port times. Adjustments to the published schedule are possible pending the outcomes of these activities.


    Learn more about the Island Class ferries

    Watch the Campbell River Mirror and the Gabriola Sounder for ongoing communications about the new Island Class ferries. We will provide you with an inside look at the operational aspects and the backstory on these newest vessels to our fleet. You can also visit our Island Class webpage on bcferries.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.

  • Project Update - June 9, 2021

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    Summary of Engagement Results

    Between March 15 and April 12 1,400 people visited this online engagement page to review information and provide feedback on the proposed two-ship schedules for the Campbell River - Quadra Island and Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island routes. A quick synopsis of engagement results for each route can be found below. Full reports can be found by clicking the links below or in the Documents section on the right-hand side of this page.


    Campbell River - Quadra Island


    Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island


    Campbell River - Quadra Island
    Synopsis of Engagement Results for Proposed Two-Ship Schedule

    125 people provided feedback on the proposed two-ship schedule


    Engagement activities included:

    • Two virtual meetings with the Ferry Advisory Committee representing the Campbell River - Quadra Island and Quadra Island - Cortes Island routes
    • A three-week online engagement
    • One virtual community meeting.


    Through engagement:

    • 55.6% of online engagement participants indicated that they feel the proposed schedule meets most or all of the most important community needs
    • 35.4% feel it doesn’t meet community needs


    Key considerations for improving the proposed schedule included:

    • Providing service on the hour and half-hour
    • Providing two-ship service later in the day
    • Accounting for the impacts on the Quadra Island – Cortes Island route


    Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island
    Synopsis of Engagement Results for Proposed Two-Ship Schedule

    141 people provided feedback on the proposed two-ship schedule


    Engagement activities included:

    • Two virtual meetings with the Ferry Advisory Committee representing the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route
    • A three-week online engagement
    • One virtual community meeting.


    Through engagement:

    • 57% of online engagement participants indicated that they feel the proposed schedule meets most or all of the most important community needs
    • 33% feel it doesn’t meet community needs


    Key considerations for improving the proposed schedule included:

    • The addition of a sailing during busy morning sailing times to ensure school children and commuters are accommodated
    • Closing the gap in evening sailing times to provide school children and shift workers with more options for returning home at the end of the day
  • Project Update - April 19, 2021

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    Thank you to everyone who participated in our virtual community meetings and our online engagement!

    We appreciate the feedback! We'll be reviewing the results and publishing a report so you can see what we heard in the coming weeks. We'll also be making refinements to the proposed schedules and will be releasing these shortly.

    Please stay tuned to this page for a report on the engagement results, and more information on the final schedules for two-ship service on your route.

Page last updated: 04 October 2021, 16:47