Trucks, vehicle traffic moving well at ferry terminal

B.C. Ferries offers truckers 50-per cent fare reduction on alternate route to reduce traffic congestion at Departure Bay.

It will take months before the terminal at Duke Point can be repaired following a hard landing on Dec. 20 by the MV Coastal Inspiration.

The Super C class Inspiration struck the berth at a speed of about five knots, following what is suspected to be an electronic malfunction. The collision caused damage to the ferry’s bow doors and the terminal’s lower vehicle ramp.

B.C. Ferries and the Transportation Safety Board are both continuing investigations into the accident, which caused minor injuries to eight passengers and four crew members.

The MV Coastal Renaissance, a sister ship to the Inspiration, replaced the damaged vessel. The Duke Point terminal remains closed, and B.C. Ferries is running both Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen routes out of Departure Bay.

Darin Guenette, B.C. Ferries spokesman, said there is no concern regarding the Renaissance’s electronics.

“Of course, anytime you’ve got a vessel that has sister ships, if something mechanical happens, we check the other ones for issues, but there is no concern,” he said.

The Duke Point terminal was established in 1997 to accommodate larger vehicles like tractor-trailers, buses and delivery vehicles.

Louise Yako, president of the B.C. Truckers’ Association, which represents about 1,200 commercial fleets, said it’s too soon to tell how the change will affect truckers once the holiday season is over, but early indications suggest goods are moving well.

“We probably won’t see the real results for a couple of weeks, once the regular routine begins again,” said Yako. “Delivery of some goods to the Island may be delayed but they haven’t been disrupted. I say that because B.C. Ferries has assured me that the capacity for commercial vehicles, total capacity between the Island and Lower Mainland, has been maintained. There is still the same amount of space available on those ferries for trucks.”

Prior to Duke Point being built, Departure Bay served as the terminal for both Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen routes.

To alleviate traffic congestion at Departure Bay, B.C. Ferries extended a 50-per cent fare discount for commercial vehicles weighing over 5,500 kilograms on the Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay route Dec. 27 and Jan. 3.

Yako said the offer appealled to a number of commercial vehicle operators. The situation will be monitored over the coming weeks to ensure commercial traffic continues to flow smoothly, she added.

Guenette said Departure Bay saw significant vehicle and passenger volume over the holidays, but the corporation added extra staff to direct customers to the correct toll booths.

“It’s busy, we know this is a busy time for travel, and we’ve put extra measures into place to ensure people’s baggage gets on the right vessel, walk-ons get on the right vessel, and vehicles are in the right lines inside the compound to access the right ferry,” said Guenette. “But [Dec. 27] ran quite well for such a busy day.”

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com

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