Skip to content

Nanaimo’s fast foot ferries branded ‘Hullo,’ terminal improvements starting

Vancouver Island Ferry Company holds groundbreaking event
Vancouver Island Ferry Company’s Hullo vessels at the Damen Group facility in Vietnam. The vessels are expected to set sail for Vancouver Island next month, with the fast foot ferry service to start in late summer. (CNW Group/Vancouver Island Ferry Company photo)

The Vancouver Island Ferry Company has announced its new fast ferry service between Nanaimo and Vancouver will be branded ‘Hullo.’

The company, which held a groundbreaking event today to begin terminal reconfiguration at 100 Port Drive, issued a press release announcing the branding for its catamaran service that will ferry foot passengers between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver in 70 minutes.

The ferry company said in the release that today’s groundbreaking will mark the beginning of construction and site reconfiguration to secure more than 400 parking spaces, install EV charging stations, create a welcome centre and make traffic flow improvements.

VIFC says the two new 354-seat vessels are undergoing final testing and sea trials at Damen Group’s Vietnam facility and will set sail for Vancouver Island next month.

Alastair Caddick, CEO of VIFC, said in the release that Hullo “is in ship-shape” and almost ready to serve Nanaimo and Vancouver.

“We have assembled a passionate and experienced team, recruiting impeccable individuals who will offer B.C. travellers an enjoyable, reliable, and efficient travel experience to and from the mainland,” he said.

The company said in the release that Hullo will offer up to seven round-trip sailings per day, “starting early enough for Island commuters to get to their downtown Vancouver offices, and running late enough for travellers to catch an evening game or concert and return home the same night.”

Rupesh Amin, VIFC executive chairman, said he was excited to break ground.

“This has been … three years in the works of doing our initial diligence, understanding what the community wants and needs, understanding the experiences of the past that have attempted this and failed, and taking all of those [lessons] and all of that community input and getting to this point here today,” he said.

“Things just take time,” said Sekhar Angepat, VIFC co-founder and chief revenue officer. “To do things correctly and the right way, to be able to launch an amazing brand like Hullo and know that we’re going to knock it out of the park for consumers, we’re really focused on it.”

VIFC says further service details including rates, sailing schedules, and amenities will be released in early June, with sailings starting late summer.

Angepat said Hullo is different than past ferries and will be able to offer reliable service.

“Obviously, we’ve done our analysis of weather conditions,” he said. “Safety and reliability are our No. 1 priority, so the vessels are sized and built for these types of waters … it depends on a few factors, it’s wind, it’s waves, it’s sea conditions, it’s visibility, all those things factor in to whether or not it’s safe to sail that day and that’s the decision of our captains, director of operations, making sure safety’s our No. 1 priority.”

Snuneymuxw Chief Michael Wyse said the First Nation is pleased to a partner in the service and said it is in line with another recently opened tourism amenity in the area.

“We’ll be able to open up that door to [the Courtyard by Marriott hotel] to provide service back and forth from the mainland, so we’re very excited it’s going to complement each other,” said Wyse.

VIFC is still finalizing some logistics, such as deciding whether passengers can bring bicycles onto the ferries. The company is also in negotiations to provide better transit connections for passengers.

“We’re having discussions with [Regional District of Nanaimo] that they would be potentially bringing in a bus service through the port … one of their regular public buses,” Amin said.

The Vancouver terminal will be the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre at 1055 Canada Pl.

For more information, visit

READ ALSO: Fast ferry service between Nanaimo and Vancouver slated to start next summer

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

A ground-breaking ceremony was held at Nanaimo’s waterfront Wednesday, April 19, for the Hullo Ferries service. Lifting shovels were Nanaimo Port Authority chairperson Donna Hais, left to right; Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog; Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse; Vancouver Island Ferry Company chief revenue officer Sekhar Angepat and executive chairperson Rupesh Amin. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
Read more