B.C. Ferries is reviewing its scheduling after a three-sailing wait, long line-ups and frustrated travellers on Sunday, Aug. 19 out of the Langdale terminal.
With the Sunshine Coast experiencing one of its busiest weekends of the year with the Festival of the Written Arts, Pender Chamber Music Festival and the Howe Sound Outrigger race all taking place, travellers were lining up for up to three hours before their desired sailing time.
“Two sailing waits are not uncommon on the weekends during the summer, but certainly three waits is unusual,” said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs for B.C. Ferries. “We were not expecting to hit that level of traffic as early as we did on Sunday. It is at the manager’s discretion at the terminal, if they determine that we have a lot of traffic to schedule extra sailings. We were certainly caught off guard and we apologize for the delays.”
Marshall said there were 9,400 passengers out of Langdale on Sunday and 3,000 vehicles as opposed to 8,100 passengers and 2,700 vehicles the previous weekend (Aug. 12), the end of the motorsports weekend and Pender Harbour Garlic Festival — another busy weekend for special event traffic out of Langdale.
There were also additional travellers from the Coast going into Vancouver for the B.C. Lions football game, a 4 p.m. kick-off, and it was a the opening weekend for the PNE.
“The earliest we could have brought the Coquitlam on was 12:30 p.m. in order to not hamper the schedule and impact the Coquitlam’s regular 2:40 sailing,” said Marshall. “There is certainly some learning for us. I know from talking with terminal staff they were working together with staff on ship and on shore to maximize the loads as best as they could and we did have some extra sailings in the evening to help us catch up.”
She said they are reviewing the weekend and will also be reviewing things with organizers of the weekend festivals to ensure a better outcome next year.
“With the outriggers and the writers’ fest participants, a lot of people booked reservations on the way over, but did not on the way back, and while I can appreciate patrons not wanting to purchase a reservation if they didn’t need it, we need to talk with organizers to get a better sense of when people might be leaving,” she said. “With better planning we could have done better and we will do better.”