Foot ferry would benefit much of the Island

Agood portion of Vancouver Island stands to benefit if and when the final funding comes together for Island Ferries’ proposed foot passenger ferry to Vancouver. Commuters from the West Shore to the Comox Valley could find such a service appealing and helpful. Island Ferries indicates the one-way ticket for the trip will be $30, and it would drop off riders at the Seabus terminal and at the foot of the Canada Line, which offers quick transit to other Lower Mainland points, most notably Vancouver International Airport.

Adult passenger-only fare from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay on B.C. Ferries is now $16.25, with a car and driver $69.60 oneway. That only gets one across the Strait, followed by a halfhour drive downtown, where extra parking costs might arise.

Commuters from as far south as Langford, and as far north as the Comox Valley could use the service on a regular basis.

Those living in the West Shore region of Victoria currently face a lengthy drive to the B.C. Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay, after which they end up in Tsawwassen – an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver. If they had the option of heading north to Nanaimo, it would be an hour’s drive to the ferry, then on to downtown Vancouver.

Because of that, the province and the federal government should get behind this latest version of the fast foot passenger ferry. After all, this service is not just for Nanaimo – it’s an Island thing. Government is supposed to make it easier for people and traffic to get from point A to point B, and this ferry would be a key transportation infrastructure piece.

While there are a number of transportation options to and from Vancouver Island, the missing link is this fast foot passenger ferry.

Its arrival would reduce vehicular traffic on both sides of the Georgia Strait, and become an economical option for commuting to Vancouver.

It is good to recall why the first two versions of the route didn’t last. The first, Royal Sealink Express, actually was doing quite well on its Nanaimo to Vancouver route in 1991, reaching a break-even point after just 11 months.

This market was proven, and Island Ferries ownership knows it. Nevertheless, the Victoria-Vancouver route that ran from downtown Victoria was too long and the lack of ridership contributed to the service’s failure. The second try, HarbourLynx, was underfunded and had one boat. This time there are two.

The previous attempts and the scars left behind are likely reasons why new investors have been shy about joining Island Ferries’ project to this point.

Perhaps it’s time they focused on this rather than rail.

Vancouver Island NewsMedia Group