Ferry service expands without going public

Commuter ferry offers extra transportation option between West Shore and downtown Victoria

Photo contributed Passengers head down the gangway to board the Grey Selkie

All it takes for Barry Hobbis to realize the value in his company’s Baseline commuter ferry service is to drive back to town from Colwood during morning rush hour.

Hobbis, founder and vice-president of operations for the West Bay Marina-based Victoria Harbour Ferry Inc., has occasion to check on things at Baseline’s West Shore dock at D jetty on Department of National Defence land.

“It’s been bumper-to-bumper just trying to get back to my office downtown,” he says. “It still amazes me that that kind of traffic exists. And it continues to get worse.”

Baseline was introduced in May as a private venture, when CFB Esquimalt cancelled its Blue Boat shuttle for naval and Dockyard personnel who live on the West Shore. The company recently expanded its service to include Victoria Shipyards workers, instituting runs leaving Colwood at 5:40 and 5:50 a.m. to accommodate the early shifts.

Baseline’s daily passenger load has grown to more than 500, without being open to the general public. Currently, all passengers must have DND security clearance.

“Studies have shown that 48 per cent of (base and shipyards workers) live on the West Shore,” Hobbis says.

Of the company’s three 40-passenger boats, two operate continually and the third is used when the demand calls for it. That has been more often lately, as the popularity of the service grows. With Seaspan due to ramp up its operations soon at the Esquimalt Graving Dock, more capacity will be needed, Hobbis says.

“We have to be very aware of capacity,” he says. “The last thing we want to do is leave people standing on the dock.”

The company has been actively looking for a larger boat for the past six months, in places as far flung as Texas and Greece. “They’re everywhere,” Hobbis says.

While the Colwood Crawl – a more appropriate name might be the West Shore Wait – continues to fuel calls for light rail and other forms of rapid transit, the success of the water commuter service makes more and more sense, he adds.

“In terms of future transportation modes, I think we’ll recognize even more so that water is the way to travel when you live on an Island,” Hobbis says.

Victoria Harbour Ferry is also among the groups looking into possible commuter service from the Royal Bay development in Colwood to downtown Victoria.

 

Hobbis says cities such as New York, Boston and Seattle recognize that using the water to create “connecting points” for commuters can reduce road congestion.

 

 

Just Posted

Cigarette butts the main culprit in lagoon beach cleaup

Thousands of butts were picked up by the Greater Victoria Green team recently

West Shore fireworks courses start next week

Course required for mandatory permit

More than 900 new units planned for Langford Lake development

Council still has to sign-off on rezoning application

Hey Amazon, the bid’s in the mail: Langford mayor

The City of Langford has officially submitted its bid to become the home of Amazon HQ2.

Art has become a lifestyle for local resident

Coast Collective’s latest exhibit celebrates all things late fall

Sooke fudge company on Dragon’s Den Nov. 2

Fudge in A Round appearance on Dragon’s Den celebrated with a viewing party at the local Legion Nov. 2

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

EDITORIAL: It’s time to change the sexual assault conversation

The words “Me Too” are taking social media by storm this week,… Continue reading

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Council to hold public hearing on EDPA report Oct. 28

Saanich residents will finally get a chance to comment on a long-awaited… Continue reading

Book recycling program helps Peninsula families

It has been 12 years since Daphne Macnaughton was principal of Saanichton… Continue reading

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Pumpkins’ versatility goes beyond Halloween

Linda Geggie For the Saanich News Get this. My 13-year-old just came… Continue reading

Most Read