Private ferries, buses eyed to replace Blue Boats

With the impending end of CFB Esquimalt’s Blue Boat ferry, base officials are exploring alternatives

With the impending end of CFB Esquimalt’s Blue Boat ferry, base officials are exploring alternatives that could pick up where the service will leave off.

Two Greater Victoria companies have approached the base about providing a private user-pay cross-harbour ferry that would carry military and civilian defence personnel between Colwood and Esquimalt.

“They have to look at the numbers, the timings, the cost for them to run a vessel and to man the vessel. Basically, from a private enterprise perspective, it would all be about whether the service could generate a profit for them or not,” said navy Capt. Craig Baines, commander of CFB Esquimalt.

The Blue Boat service saw a ridership of upwards of 400 people each day through the work week. That has dropped by 35 per cent since mid-January when one of two boats was taken out of service for maintenance.

The base commander said he can’t budge on his decision to cancel the service due to declining numbers of civilian personnel, largely due to attrition, who work on auxiliary fleet vessels. Blue Boat operators are needed to operate base tugs and barges, for example, said Baines.

“There is zero discretion.” Baines said. “Even stretching (the ferry service) to April 30 is having an impact on our folks because it’s difficult for them to take leave.”

The base will also offer the use of two vacant parcels of federal land in Colwood if B.C. Transit or a private bus company wants to offer a park-and-ride bus service. There is space for 350 to 500 vehicles.

But B.C. Transit officials say there is no money in the 2012 budget to extend the No. 25 route to that pick-up spot, or shell out $200,000 a year to put an extra public transit bus on the road to transport defence personnel from that location.

“There are 400 to 600 people taking this Blue Boat,” said B.C. Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton. “We don’t know how many of them will become B.C. Transit riders. We hope that it’s a majority of them, but it’s a risk that we’re not ready to assume at this time.”

Given the Treasury Board’s regulations that prevent public funds from being spent on getting federal employees to and from work, the base can’t shell out any money to help B.C. Transit or keep the Blue Boat ferry going.

“I can’t do it,” Baines said. “I’d be breaking the law.”

That is why the he is trying to create opportunities for alternative transportation options.

The base will also launch a new carpool matching service on May 1 to connect defence commuters.

Those who use the service and carpool together will be “assigned better parking spots” at the base, Baines said.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Just Posted

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ground on permanent search and rescue station in Victoria

Victoria-based SAR will do all rescues in local harbour and parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Police actions under investigation following Langford arrest

IIO investigates officer-related incidents that result in serious harm

Police charge 27-year-old man with weapons offences after Langford shooting

Justin Lemmen was arrested shortly after the shooting after crashing into a truck

Victoria woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

Gas stations could push to 167.9 cents a litre this week

Analyst says high prices are due to supply and demand

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Island Cup set for East Sooke on May 3-5

Off-road racing event expected to attract over 50 racers

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read