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General News · 17th July 2018
I wrote to BC Ferries regarding the question of more sailings or a bigger boat. I thought you might find it interesting.
Before you get mad, consider that even if you are a person who needs to bring your vehicle over to CR, supporting others to leave their cars behind will make that easier for you.

And increasing capacity doesn't work.


Hi there -
There has recently been done, some extensive surveying of transportation habits for Cortes Island. This was part of an overall attempt to understand transportation habits and needs. Hopefully you find it useful. It is attached.

I am convinced that the solution alleviating ferry congestion is not to increase capacity, but to encourage non-car options and to spread out the vehicle demand.

Neither July or August ever overloads when we take the average. Individual sailings overload. But the capacity is there to use, if we can only engage in some creative organization and incentives.

For example, July 2017 saw 3,751 vehicles come to cortes. In July there were 186 sailings with a total capacity of 4,650 vehicles (if 25 fit on the boat...). So even in the busy summer months, we're at 80% full. Annual average capacity is 54,750 vehicles, and 2017 total vehicle traffic was 28,809 - that's only 52% of capacity.

Reservations can help smooth the peaks in demand. Currently, the Cortes reservation system is to park your vehicle the night before, in line for the first sailing. Most people are embarassed and irritated by this chore - it isn't very fair, is a polluting system and can cost as much as $40 in vehicle expenses and 2 hours of human time driving across the island. A reservation system, for both ferries, would reduce the demand for Monday and Thursday priority loading sailings, provide more equal access to the ferry, and spread the load over more sailings. I would prefer to look online, take the sailing that hasn't sold out yet, than wait in the hot sun for 4 hours and take that same ferry anyway. A web-cam is apparently in the works to help with this.

Some sort of HOV lane for the ferry would also help some people leave their cars behind. Increased transportation options across quadra would reduce vehicle demand. BC Ferries could help with this by offering shuttle service and supporting ride-sharing initiatives.

I also believe some changes to the cost incentives would be appropriate. Currently a walk-on ticket is nearly half the cost of a vehicle ticket. This is in spite of the fact that many more humans can fit on a boat than vehicles; vehicles are almost always the limiting factor in ferry capacity. I believe a more appropriate cost ratio would be more fair, and would nudge people toward leaving their cars behind and find alternatives.

Some of the solutions to leaving our cars behind already exist, others have yet to be created. With great strides being made to offer these alternatives, BC Ferries could find that demand begins to decline in the future. Passengers are already frustrated with the cost of ferry travel and are hungry for alternatives.

BC Ferries already operates many routes at a loss, including ours -- and increasing capacity on a route that doesn't need it must only exacerbate that situation.

I look forward to hearing back from BC Ferries, and welcome any follow-up questions or responses.

using more of our capacity=reduced ferry fares?
Comment by Mary Clare Preston on 20th July 2018
Max I think they have more important goals than reducing fares, like installing and running Cortes first billboard! Thank you BC Ferries! Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions, a shuttle could work well.
Re not losing money
Comment by Paul Ryan on 20th July 2018
Max, consider for a moment what BC Transit would do if their ridership suddenly increased. Would they lower the fares? I think not. They have bus runs which are not fully utilized either, but it's part of the transportation package, just like BC Ferries!
not losing money...
Comment by max on 19th July 2018
okay, thanks Paul-- I acknowledge that I had just 'heard' that, and assumed it was true... especially since we use on average ~%50 of ferry capacity... I wonder: does this mean that using more of our capacity could enable us to reduce ferry fares for all?
Losing Money?
Comment by Paul Ryan on 19th July 2018
Max, With all due respect, our ferry routes do not lose money if you subtract BCf's annoying habit of including infrastructure upgrade costs to our operating costs.
Quadra taxi can’t be counted on
Comment by Don Tennant on 18th July 2018
Last time I needed the taxi, I called ahead of time to ensure they’d meet the 6:15 from Campbell River. Never showed, no answer, so I had a night at the HBI. I think Max is correct, a shuttle cross Quadra would be a heck of a lot cheaper than building, and crewing a larger ferry.
There's still a taxi
Comment by Sean Coyote on 18th July 2018
Hi Jack. There is still a Quadra taxi. We use it on occasion to shuttle teenagers and friends/family who are uncomfortable with hitching or asking for a ride....
They provide a valuable, but not especially cheap, service.
Ferry congestion
Comment by Jack Wills on 18th July 2018
Max, I totally agree that a shuttle across Quadra would go a long way in encouraging more walk-on rather than vehicle traffic. There is no way to reliably close the gap between Heriot Bay and Q Cove. I think Quadra Taxi is no longer operating, though I may be in error there. In any case, the taxi was limited in its capacity, costly, and did not always make their pick-ups on time.
As for reservations, there I feel it would just turn out to be a cash grab for B.,C. Ferries. It would allow them to put a premium on a significant number of vehicles and also make a costly trip even more costly to the disadvantage of those least able to afford it. Recall that the ferries were supposed to be an extension of the roadways.
A huge issue is also the very limited amount of space for the ferry line-ups. Already, Harbour Rd. is often blocked all the way back to Seavista Rd. forcing local drivers into an illegal and hazardous situation of driving on the wrong side of the roadway.
Encourage tourism, pay the price in inconvenience.
Webcam & August 2017
Comment by Ester on 17th July 2018
That was when we received the update that: "Twincomm and BC Ferries are working on the Whaletown webcam, stay tuned for a 2017 fall update". We never heard anything about again, and it is nearly a year later.