BC Ferries’ Coastal Ferry Services Contract with the Province defines Core Service levels as the number of round trips and hours during which departures occurred, with a capacity adequate to carry traffic in the previous year, for each of its 25 ferry routes.
In return for service, the company receives from the Province an annual service fee. The service fee is paid on a per-sailing basis on 22 of the ferry routes; the remaining 3 routes (called the major route group) are self-supporting and receive no service fee. The details of service fees paid on each route are found in the Route Financial Statements in .
The quality of service is also tracked. You will find route-by-route records of service disruptions and sailing cancellations, with reasons, for each year in BC Ferries Annual Reports to the Commission. Service quality tends to vary by season of the year (e.g. due to weather and congestion): you will find service reports by spring, summer, fall and winter quarter-years on the Service Quality page of this web site (see Appendix 3 of the quarterly reports listed on that page).
Each year the Commission states whether BC Ferries has met its contracted service levels. So far the Commission has confirmed that this is the case, in every year. You will find this statement in the highlights and message from the Commissioner in the Commission’s own Annual Reports published on the downloads and links page of this web site.
Temporary Service Disruptions and Force Majeure
The contract allows BC Ferries to miss some sailings without penalty. There is an allowance of 20 consecutive days and / or a cumulative total of 30 days each calendar year for temporary service disruptions due to:
- vessel or dock breakdown or mechanical failure
- situations that compromise safety
- tasking of vessels for emergency response
- bad weather
- maintenance to vessels or docks
- sinking or grounding of vessels
- labour disputes, except lock-outs initiated by BC Ferries.
In the case of service disruptions caused by an event of force majeure (i.e. beyond BC Ferries’ reasonable control and not its fault – see list below), BC Ferries is not liable to the Province for failing to perform its obligations. Nevertheless if the event of force majeure is likely to reduce service below core service levels, BC Ferries is obligated to act to resume service with the least possible delay. Events of force majeure specifically exclude “lack of money, financing or credit” but include:
- acts of God
- changes in federal laws
- governmental restrictions on imports, exports or foreign exchange
- wars, fires, floods and storms
- strikes (including illegal work stoppages or slowdowns
- lockouts (other than lockouts initiated by BC Ferries in compliance with the BC labour code)
- freight embargoes and power failures.
Minimum Daily Sailings
Since April 1, 2008, within a given year, BC Ferries has had the flexibility to “move” some sailings from days with quiet traffic to days with busy traffic, as follows:
- Major Routes. For Performance Term Two (2008-2012) the minimum number of round trips required to be delivered each day is one trip less than in Performance Term One (2003-2008), on each of the three major routes (with associated reduced hours of operation). At the same time BC Ferries is committed to deliver the same annual number of round trips as in term one, but only as an aggregate total of all three routes.
- Non-Major Routes. For Performance Term Two (2008-2012) the minimum number of round trips required to be delivered each day is one less than in performance term one (with associated reduced hours of operation), with a commitment that, on each route, the annual number of round trips remains the same as in term one.
The exceptions are Routes 5/5a, 9/9a, 17 and the Northern Routes (routes 10, 11 & 40) where the round trips to be delivered remains the same as in term one due to the limited number of round trips.