File photo

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

More B.C. Ferries sailings could be cancelled as riders are staying away during a time of social distancing and self-isolation.

The ferry corporation is in Phase 4 of its pandemic response plan, which involves reduction to carrying essential traffic only as well as potential changes to sailing and shift schedules, according to the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union website.

There is a threshold of a certain number of sick employees that would have triggered Phase 4, but Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said that wasn’t the case.

“We are seeing an increase in absenteeism, that’s for sure, but the trigger is due to the downturn in traffic,” she said.

Marshall said there was one sailing on the Earls Cove-Saltery Bay route this week that was cancelled due to a crewing issue, but that’s all so far.

“We are closely looking at our workforce and reviewing our service levels,” she said.

B.C. Ferries confirmed earlier this week that one worker based out of Tsawwassen contracted COVID-19, though he didn’t work on public areas of the ship and his contact was limited to seven co-workers. The union advised members that the employee worked in the engineering department on the Spirit of British Columbia vessel.

Ferry travel has been decreasing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of the week, B.C. Ferries CEO Mark Collins said ferry traffic was down about 40 per cent, and then on Wednesday, March 25, the ferry corporation asked people to avoid non-essential ferry trips.

“Because what we’re seeing in our traffic now, we are down about 55-65 per cent in vehicles and about 70-80 per cent in passengers, depending on the route,” Marshall said Friday, March 27.

She noted that B.C. Ferries has announced some service reductions for April on major routes as well as sailings to and from the southern Gulf Islands. More service reductions are being considered.

“We’re looking at it right now and we’ll update our customers with any new information,” Marshall said.

Though B.C. Ferries has asked people to avoid non-essential travel, Collins said a more strict travel ban, if necessary, would come from the government or the provincial health officer and “it’s not for us to decide whether a marine highway stays open or closed.”

He did say that the ferries need to keep running regardless, so B.C. Ferries will take care of workers so that they feel safe coming to work.

“We’ve got to get those trucks across. You’ve got to keep the food moving, keep the toilet paper moving and keep those critical supplies moving, not just to Vancouver Island, but all the little islands as well,” Collins said. “I’m really proud of [ferry workers]. They’re going to work in the face of the virus so that people can have the critical supplies.”

READ ALSO: B.C. Ferries halts all food service as sandwiches go uneaten amid COVID-19

READ ALSO: B.C. Ferries stops serving hot food on vessels as COVID-19 response

READ ALSO: People now allowed to stay in cars on B.C. Ferries to avoid COVID-19 spread



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Big Stick light up red to signal COVID devastation

“COVID-19 has been truly devastating to the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre”

MacGregor hosting virtual town hall on green COVID economic recovery

“Making the right investment decisions now to ensure a visionary carbon-conscious recovery…”

Elder College going online with dozens of courses this fall

There are 16 courses in the September session

Thanksgiving Food Drive coming to your door in Cowichan

Next week will be your chance to help meet the food crisis

Cowichan Community Centre Elder College celebrates 20th anniversary

Volunteer instructors are the key to success.

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

Most Read