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

Victoria-bound plane slides off icy Edmonton runway

Crew, passengers had to disembark via bridge stairs

VIDEO: Hundreds gather in Victoria as part of global Women’s March for equality

‘End Violence Against Women’ march theme for 2019

Victoria’s oldest pipes to be replaced this year

The pipes along Cook Street were installed in 1891 and are made of bricks

Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

A severe doctor shortage is leaving Esquimalt residents scrambling for health care

Almost four of 10 Canadians have unlimited internet data at home

Fifty-four per cent say they telecommute at least sometimes

WATCH: Medieval fighters train in Colwood

Fighters are gearing up for world championships in medieval combat

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

Most Read