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BC Ferries adds summer sailings, removes fuel charge after 'frustrating' 2023 season

A BC Ferries vessel is seen from the air in 2019. (Pete Cline / CTV News Vancouver) A BC Ferries vessel is seen from the air in 2019. (Pete Cline / CTV News Vancouver)

BC Ferries will add 350 more sailings to its schedule this summer and remove its fuel surcharge as the ferry operator looks to avoid a repeat of last summer's travel frustrations caused by mechanical problems and staff shortages.

The ferry service says it has regularized many of its formerly casual staff positions, and current casual staff have been given better compensation and working conditions than in years past to help remedy the crew shortages.

The company says it hired 1,200 new staff last year and 500 new staff this year. The operator has also tightened its vessel refit and repair schedule to ensure more vessels are available for peak summer season, the company says.

"It's no secret that last summer, we had a number of challenges," BC Ferries spokesperson Jeff Groot told reporters in Victoria on Wednesday. "We're in a much better place."


Fuel surcharge removed

The ferry service anticipates completing around 56,000 sailings along the B.C. coast in 2024, up from 55,600 last year.

"When we look at the ferry system as a public service, we understand that it's frustrating to our customers when things don't go according to the plan," said Darren Johnston, vice-president of marine operations at BC Ferries.

"With a fleet as large as ours, unexpected delays and cancellations do happen and can happen for a Iot of reasons, both controlled and uncontrolled."

In the event that sailings are cancelled this year, BC Ferries says it has improved its refund schedule to repay customers.

The operator says it will also remove its four-per-cent fuel surcharge on fares starting on June 1.

All-gender washrooms

The company is revamping its staff and customer washrooms – phasing in gender-neutral facilities, introducing Braille signage for sight-impaired passengers, and providing free hygiene products for women in all-gender washrooms.

"We want our spaces and services to be inclusive and accessible for all of our customers," said Lindsey Matthews, vice-president of public affairs at BC Ferries.

"Where possible, we've changed our single-user public and employee washrooms to all-gender spaces that provide privacy for each person using the facility."

The increased summer sailings are expected to begin gradually starting in early to mid June.

The company says ferry ridership is up by approximately seven per cent over years past, enough to offset the costs of the increased summer sailings and removal of the fuel surcharge this year. Top Stories

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