Starting this spring, there will be increased ferry service between Prince Rupert and Skidegate.
During the off-season, from mid-September until mid-June, BC Ferries will provide an additional round trip every two weeks. The provincial government made the announcement Monday afternoon, stating that the increase in ferry sailings is to improve access for residents and businesses in the area.
“The substantial growth in traffic on this route is good news for the regional economy, and travellers will benefit from the additional scheduled trips,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure in a press release.
The additional bi-weekly sailing will only be offered in the off-season, which BC Ferries currently provides two round trips a week. There will be no additional sailings during peak season from mid-June until mid-September, which has five round-trips a week.
“More frequent sailings will be a welcome improvement for our residents who rely on this service to Haida Gwaii as our marine Highway,” said North Coast Regional District Board chair Barry Pages. “Our residents appreciate the province and BC Ferries recognizing the need for these extra sailings that will help serve our communities and growing tourism economy.”
Government statistics have demonstrated a growth in the number of passengers and vehicles along the Prince Rupert-Haida Gwaii route. Last year, the number of vehicles aboard this route increased by 15 per cent, whereas the average increase for BC Ferries was just 5 per cent. There was a similar increase of passengers.
North Coast Liberal candidate Herb Pond responded to the announcement, calling it a good start.
“After considerable hardship, the north is once again experiencing growth, and ferry service is an important part of that. BC Ferries is vital to operating businesses throughout this riding, is vital to our entire visitor economy, and is vital to our northern standard of living. We rely on BC Ferries for access to health care, shopping, and recreational opportunities,” Pond said.
To support the additional service, BC Ferries and the provincial government will be negotiating a hike in fees in the near future.