BC Ferries passengers want to see more fresh food choices, amenities for pets, quiet areas, and improved Wi-Fi service, according to recent feedback.
More than 10,000 people have already shared their thoughts on how BC Ferries can improve upon four soon-to-be-replaced ships. According to the company, the first round of public engagement on the replacement of four ferries saw 9,620 people respond online and 1,750 passengers take part in on-board engagement sessions.
“We’re excited about how many customers participated in these conversations and the ideas we heard on how we can improve their experience while travelling with us,” Mark Collins, BC Ferries president and CEO, said in a news release. “We look forward to taking the feedback we heard, along with the results from our technical studies, to inform the design requirements for these new ferries.”
BC Ferries plans to replace four existing vessels — Queen of New Westminster, Queen of Alberni, Queen of Coquitlam and Queen of Cowichan — with at least four new ferries. The new vessels, expected to enter BC Ferries’ fleet in the mid-2020s, are planned to service the Vancouver Island to Metro Vancouver routes.
Respondents to the first round of public engagement were asked to share opinions on several topics, including accessibility, pedestrians and cyclists, pet spaces, outdoor spaces, food and beverage, family spaces, new amenities, and technology.
People, according to the responses BC Ferries received, want to see more spaces and amenities for pets and pet owners on the new ships, more food choices, improved Wi-Fi, improved bicycle storage, larger play areas, and quiet areas, among other suggestions. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels, reducing waste, and minimizing air and noise emissions were also concerns.
The company’s priorities include safety, environmental sustainability, underwater radiated noise, and capacity, the release stated.
The second round of public engagement is slated for later this year.
BC Ferries said it expects to award a contract next year to build the new vessels. Acquiring new ships — because it qualifies as a major capital expenditure — requires the approval of the BC Ferries Commissioner, under the Coastal Ferry Act’s Section 55.