Travelers on the BC Ferries Nanaimo Harbor-Gabriola Island route will soon have more sailing options as a second hybrid vessel enters service on Tuesday.
Two hybrid Island-class ferries will begin operating the route on April 12, marking a 49% increase in vehicle capacity compared to when the MV Quinsam traveled the route alone.
Going forward, one of the Island-class ferries will operate on the same 6 p.m. schedule as the MV Quinsam, while the second hybrid ferry will operate on a 12-hour schedule, offering increased crossings between 7 a.m. and 5 a.m. 40 p.m. each day.
The new navigation program was developed in consultation with community members and the Gabriola Island Ferry Advisory Committee.
BC Ferries says feedback it has received from the community has highlighted the need for more morning crossings to support workers and school children leaving Gabriola, and better ways to board and disembark passengers on foot .
In light of the feedback, BC Ferries said it built a separate walkway for foot passengers at the Port of Nanaimo terminal to streamline boarding and disembarking the ship.
The updated Port of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island schedule can be found on the BC Ferries website.
“Everyone is learning and getting used to a new ship, new schedules and a slightly different travel experience,” BC Ferries said.
“Please be patient and kind to our crew and fellow travelers as we navigate this learning curve together.”
As the two Island-class ferries replace the single MV Quinsam, BC Ferries is redeploying the MV Quinsam on the Crofton-Salt Spring Island route starting Wednesday.
The ferry that currently operates on the route, the MV Quinitsa, will be replaced by the MV Quinsam, which has an increased capacity of approximately 100 passengers and 19 vehicles.