Skip to content

Hahn delivers positive news about route three

BC Ferries president and CEO David Hahn answered some tough questions and also brought forth some encouraging news about route three at a meeting in Sechelt Monday night.

BC Ferries president and CEO David Hahn answered some tough questions and also brought forth some encouraging news about route three at a meeting in Sechelt Monday night.

The Ferry Advisory Committee invited Hahn, along with John Henderson, Sunshine Coast rep on the board of directors, and chief financial officer Rob Clarke to speak at the public meeting and answer questions.

The 100 or so people who attended Monday's meeting at the Chatelech theatre grilled Hahn on everything from financial numbers to customer surveys, schedules, terminal upgrades and ship replacements.

Hahn presented the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay route report, an overview of the status of route three. Included in the report are on-time performance statistics, number of sailings provided per month, traffic statistics, results of customer surveys, financial information and vessel deployment information.

From April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004, BC Ferries carried 2.5 million customers and 1.1 million vehicles between Langdale and Horseshoe Bay. During that same period, ships made 5.934 sailings on the route.

"On average, 81 per cent of those crossings departed within 10 minutes of the scheduled sailing time," Hahn said. "For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, we anticipate a 4.1 per cent increase in passenger traffic and a 4.0 per cent increase in vehicle traffic."

Hahn also outlined other improvements. "New washrooms were installed in the holding compound at Langdale and a third vehicle booth was added," Hahn said. "We've also reconfigured the pre-ticket zone at Horseshoe Bay to improve public safety and traffic processing. Enhancements have also been made to our 'current conditions' website and webcams have been added to offer an immediate glimpse of the traffic at our terminals."

Also contained in the report were vessel deployment plans for route three. The Queen of Surrey will remain on the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay route as the primary vessel until late June. After that the Queen of Coquitlam, which underwent a mid-life upgrade two years ago, will be re-deployed to this route for the summer months.

The Queen of Esquimalt will be the supplemental vessel on route three for the summer of 2005 while the Surrey will become the supplemental vessel on the Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo run for the summer.

When the Coquitlam undergoes its annual refit in September, the Surrey will return to the Langdale route. After the refit, the Coquitlam will return to the Langdale route permanently.

In the late fall of this year, the Surrey will be removed from service for six-and-a-half months for its mid-life upgrade. When the Surrey returns to the fleet, the ship will act as a relief vessel on various routes, including route three.Following the meeting, Hahn told Coast Reporter he felt the meeting was positive and the dialogue with the public was constructive.

"The biggest thing is to give people a chance to ask questions," Hahn said. "Presentations we make are nice, but I think people have to have the opportunity to ask you the tough questions. I don't think I told everyone what they necessarily wanted to hear, but I told them exactly where we were and I think that's just as important as anything.

"The bottom line is, we're buying time right now with an aging fleet. Until new ships come in and until the terminals are upgraded, we have to try and do the best we can. However, there are things we can do with the terminals now that are easier and in our control. Ships are another issue altogether. They're expensive. They have to be bought the right way. I think that is probably the biggest thing we're trying to do. Our goal is to make [travelling on BC Ferries] as efficient and enjoyable as we can."

On route three specifically Hahn said the outlook is positive.

"When I look at two years out and if we have the kind of growth and if we're smart in making it easy for people to travel the Sunshine Coast, it's very, very positive," Hahn said. "It means more investment. It means more opportunities to handle some of the issues that were brought up tonight. It's not just about terminals, but down the road people talked about ships and services, late night sailings and other things.

"This is a great growth market, but it's going to take time. It took time to get it to where it is today, and it's going to take more time to get it to where it should be."

Hahn said he anticipates planning for upgrades to the Langdale terminal to start "sooner rather than later."

"The hard part will be during the summer, because we'll be busy moving traffic," he said. "I think we have to initiate that probably in May. Start talking about the planning of the process, if you will, so it's almost like a plan for a plan."

Ferry advisory committee chair Ed Steeves echoed Hahn's positive feelings about the meeting and the future of route three.

"A couple of years ago we were a route that was losing money. Now we are a route that broke even last year and now we're a route that has shown a good profit this year," Steeves said. "Ridership is up and something must be going right for us to go through the extra expenses and still be making a profit. And of course this profit is turned back into our route again.

"It's important for us to bring someone like [Hahn] to our people and let them ask those tough questions that we can't answer. This is open dialogue, and the hundred or so people here tonight went away, I think, much more knowledgeable than before."

Steeves said he's also happy to see plans for the Langdale terminal upgrades are proceeding.

"He has a feeling that the Langdale terminal is a downgrade to us," Steeves added, "that we don't present ourselves well when people arrive on the Sunshine Coast. He feels that the upgrades would add traffic to us here as well as many other things and those are all positives. I liked the frankness in which he answers questions. If he doesn't like something he has an answer. It's maybe not what the people want to hear, but he has an answer."

Coast Reporter also spoke with media relations' spokesperson Deborah Marshall about plans for the summer schedule.Marshall said marine superintendent Steve Graham will be consulting with stakeholders shortly.

"We're hoping to make some minor changes to the schedule to reduce the congestion at Horseshoe Bay with the goal of improving on-time performance on all three routes," Marshall said. "We expect more information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks."

Marshall also said BC Ferries has some extra sailings and ships on the schedule to help meet the travel demands this holiday weekend.

The Bowen Queen, a 70-car ferry, is available for overload sailings at peak times this weekend. Also the Queen of Esquimalt will be on the Langdale and Nanaimo runs this weekend as well.

For more information on sailing times visit