BC Ferries

From Academic Kids

BC Ferries' new logo.

Missing image
B.C. Ferries' two flagship vessels - "Spirit of British Columbia" (below) and "Spirit of Vancouver Island" (above) - in Active Pass

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. or BC Ferries is the company that provides all major passenger and vehicle ferry services on the West Coast of British Columbia. Set up in 1959 to provide a substantially better service then those provided by the Black Ball Line and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which were affected by frequent spurts of job action, BC Ferries has become one of the biggest passenger ferry lines in the world, boasting a fleet of 35 vessels with a total passenger and crew capacity of over 27,000, serving 48 locations on the B.C. coast.



In the late 1950s, a strike caused the Social Credit government of W.A.C. Bennett to decide that the coastal ferry service in B.C. needed to be owned by government, and so he set about creating BC Ferries.

BC Ferries' first route, commissioned in 1960, was between Swartz Bay, a small suburb of Sidney, and Tsawwassen, a part of the Corporation of Delta, using just two vessels. The next few years saw a dramatic growth of the B.C. ferry system, as it literally took over operations of the Black Ball Line and other major private companies providing vehicle ferry service between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. As the ferry system expanded and started to service other small coastal communities, BC Ferries had to build more vessels, many of them in the first five years of its operations, to keep up with the demand. The vast majority of the vessels in the fleet were built in B.C. waters, with only two foreign purchases and one domestic purchase. In the mid 1980s, BC Ferries took over the operations of the saltwater branch of the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways, which ran ferry services to very small coastal communities. This action dramatically increased the size of BC Ferries' fleet and its geographical service area. The distinctive 'dogwood on green' flag that BC Ferries used between 1960 and 2003 gave the service its popular nickname "the Dogwood Fleet".

In 2003, the Government of British Columbia announced that BC Ferries, which had been in debt, was going to be reorganized into a "private" company. This was established through the passing of the Coastal Ferry Act ( (Bill 18-2003). Although it was touted as no longer being a Crown corporation, therefore in theory separated from the government and the political interference that goes with it, in fact, the single voting share is held by the BC Ferry Authority, which is effectively an arm of the Government. Critics have said that the company, however reorganized, will continue to be subject to political interference, despite the Government's assurances to the contrary. More information about the political aspects of this monumental change to the company is available here (

A national controversy erupted in July, 2004 when BC Ferries announced that the company had disqualified all Canadian bids and only the proposals from European shipyards to build three new Super-C class ships were being considered. The contract is estimated at less than $500 million for the three ships, which are each designed to carry 370 vehicles and 1600 passengers.

The argument for domestic construction of the ferries is that it would employ numerous British Columbia workers, would revitalize the sagging B.C. shipbuilding industry, and entitle the provincial government to a large portion of the cost in the form of taxes. The advantages of employing European shipbuilders were that they had far more experience and shipyards that were more capable of constructing the ships, the cost was expected to be significantly less, and others' contract terms could be negotiated that were superior to what was likely to be available from B.C. shipbuilders.

On September 17, 2004, BC Ferries finally awarded ( the vessel construction contract to Germany's Flensburger shipyard ( The contract protects BC Ferries from any delays through a fixed price and fixed schedule contract, and the performance of the ferries is guaranteed with strong contractual requirements. The three vessels are expected to be delivered in 2007 and 2008.

Current routes

Route numbers are used internally by BC Ferries. All routes allow vehicles unless stated otherwise.


BC Ferries has the largest fleet of vehicle ferry vessels in the world. There are 35 vessels, ranging from small 16-car ferries up to 470-car "super ferries". All of the vessels in use by BC ferries are "roll-on, roll-off" car ferries. Most of the major vessels are based on similar designs which are aggregated into "classes" of ferries:

B.C. Regional Districts served

Capital, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Comox-Strathcona, Mount Waddington, Greater Vancouver, Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Central Coast, Skeena-Queen Charlotte

See also

External links


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools