A ferry servicing Nanaimo-Tsawwassen will be out of commission longer than expected, with its return now anticipated for the Christmas season.
The Coastal Renaissance was forced out of service in August, and while BC Ferries originally estimated a return after Thanksgiving, that has now been pushed back a couple of months, said Stephen Jones, BC Ferries’ executive director of engineering, said at a press conference Thursday, Sept. 28.
The Coastal Renaissance was suspended from service Aug. 17 due to a motor drive failure. The motor was removed from the vessel Sept. 15, Jones said, and is now undergoing repair with a contractor in Indiana in the U.S.
“That’s going to entail replacement of the rotor, repair of the stator and that will be back to us at around the first week in December, which will allow for return of the vessel following its scheduled reset period. Its scheduled refit period is going to end Dec. 14,” Jones said, adding that the repair bill is estimated at $3 million.
B.C. Ferries said while it can’t guarantee it won’t have issues with engines going forward, it services and maintains equipment to prevent service failures.
Jones said BC Ferries is also examining the engines of vessels similar to the Coastal Renaissance, but testing has been inconclusive.
“We’ll be doing extensive testing on the damaged rotor at the contractors to establish exactly what the cause of the failure was. That will then play into how we manage the remainder of the fleet,” he said.
With travel expected to pick up for the Thanksgiving Day long weekend, BC Ferries recommends customers make preparations. Brian Anderson, BC Ferries’ vice-president of strategy and community engagement, said 400,000 customers are anticipated at that time.
All ticket booths at major terminals are expected to be open, special traffic management plans are in place and real-time updates will be provided via social media, he said.
“There is less capacity available than would traditionally be provided on the Thanksgiving long weekend … That reduction in capacity does bring us to remind everyone that if you can travel without a car, that will be your best option,” said Anderson. “If you need to bring a vehicle, then a booking is highly recommended and if you need to travel without a booking, or it’s impossible to make a booking, to travel at off-peak times early in the morning or later at night.”