Passenger-only ferry could connect Nanaimo to Vancouver

Island Ferries had bid on the TransLink-offered opportunity

Island Ferries has made a bid for a berth at Vancouver’s SeaBus terminal in its effort to start a new passenger ferry service.

Island Ferries has responded to an expression of interest from TransLink, which says it’s exploring the possibility of hosting private ferry and water taxi operators for service between the Vancouver SeaBus terminal and Victoria, Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast.

Island Ferries, looking to start up a passenger ferry between Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver, has already inked an offer to lease with Nanaimo Port Authority for its Port Way facilities.

  • RELATED: Island Ferries signs lease agreement with Nanaimo Port Authority

The expression of interest for the Vancouver terminal closed Oct. 7.

Island Ferries’ director of operations Dave Marshall said the company previously answered a call for interest from TransLink in operating from the SeaBus terminal and entered into a preliminary licence – but Island Ferries couldn’t move forward in Nanaimo, and without Nanaimo, couldn’t close on Vancouver.

He said Island Ferries put in a good proposal to the recent expression of interest, and is fairly confident that what the company offered and described to TransLink offers the best financial return and is highly consistent with the mandate to provide public transit and public transportation.

“We are not a tourist operation, as you can appreciate, and we positioned ourselves as really a kind of extension of the TransLink system that connects folks in central Vancouver Island with all the destinations in Vancouver and leverages off the significant investment TransLink has made in mass transit,” he said.

TranksLink has hopes of driving up revenues through the sale of transit tickets to passengers, according to an e-mail from TransLink spokeswoman Jill Drews, who said since users of the ferry and water taxi services would need to pass through TransLink’s fare paid zone, they’ll have to carry valid proof of fare.

She said the services are meant to supplement B.C. Ferries services with flexible and vehicle-free travel options.

Renovations to accommodate new operations would be paid for by the service providers.

TransLink’s next step will be to negotiate with the successful party or parties in December.

Island Ferries is still looking for a full lease from the port authority and has to complete an environmental assessment. Its ships will be completed at the end of May.

“Our focus is on recognizing the availability of those ships, we’ll trial them, we’ll bring them to Nanaimo and we want to have ports or terminals on either side ready to accept them by summer,” Marshall said.



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