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Commuter ferry expands to shipyard

Dec 12 2012
The Baseline ferry has seen the number of passengers increase to 500 a day from 200 in May. 

The Baseline ferry has seen the number of passengers increase to 500 a day from 200 in May.

Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist , Times Colonist

The commuter ferry between Colwood and CFB Esquimalt has expanded its route to include workers heading to and from Victoria Shipyards.

Victoria Harbour Ferry announced on Tuesday that the number people using the Baseline service, which caters to employees at CFB Esquimalt, has roughly doubled since the service began in May.

The service was started after the base cancelled its free staff shuttle to and from the West Shore.

The Baseline connector has two regular vessels that make an estimated 21 trips a day, ferrying about 500 passengers - more than double the number who used it the first day Harbour Ferry took over, said Baseline vice-president of operations Barry Hobbis.

The demand is expected to grow as jobs are added to the shipyard and population increases on the West Shore.

"The reality is that on the Dockyard side, more and more people will find fewer and fewer parking spots ... and when you consider the fuel costs, eventually everyone will start to figure out the economics of it," Hobbis said.

Passengers pay $5 for a return fare, $22.50 for a weekly pass or $80 for a monthly pass.

Hobbis urged all levels of government to look at ferries as part of an integrated transportation system in the region.

"Sooner or later, government has to realize that you have to have rail, roads, transit and cars, but equally you have to look at using the most natural highway that exists on any island, which is water," Hobbis said.

Meanwhile, the WestShore Chamber of Comerce is championing a marketing study to measre interest in a commuter ferry service.

Staff at Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the Coho ferry between Victoria and Port Angeles, are working on the study with the faculty of management at Royal Roads University.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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