In November 2009, Access for Sight Impaired Consumers submitted a proposal to the BC Ferry Services Inc.,, requesting they investigate the feasability of providing sighted guide assistance from the car deck to the passenger deck (and return) for those passengers travelling to Vancouver Island via motor coach.
BC Ferries promptly acknowledged our request and we are pleased to report a very positive outcome. The new service will support the independent traveller going city to city by bus and ferry. BC Ferries has engaged the bus lines, reviewed this service with its Accessibility Committee and initiated the communication of the process to its ship and shore staff
Effective immediately, passengers who are blind or sight impaired, travelling to Victoria on Pacific Coach Lines or to Nanaimo via Greyhound may ask their coach driver to request sighted guide assistance once the coach boards the ferry. The following information is now posted on the BC Ferries web site:
BC Ferries is working with Pacific Coach Lines and Greyhound to enable passengers who are blind or sight-impaired to travel to and from Vancouver Island with greater independence. These three transportation specialists have recognized the challenges and difficulties for those bus passengers who are blind or sight-impaired in getting from the motor coach up to and down from the passenger decks on the ferries. Procedures have been implemented to provide sighted guide assistance from the motor coach (once it arrives on the car deck) up to the passenger deck and back when the ship arrives at her destination. The procedure is as follows:
- When you board your motor coach, inform the driver that you will require sighted-guide assistance from the car deck to the passenger deck on the ferry.
- The driver will advise the BC Ferries ticket booth personnel of your request when the bus enters the terminal.
- On-board ship personnel will meet your bus on the car deck to guide you to the passenger deck.
- It is your responsibility to inform the driver as to whether you will be returning to the bus when the ship docks or whether you will be disembarking as a foot passenger. It is also important that the on-board ship personnel is also aware of your intent to return to the bus or to disembark as a foot passenger.
- Be sure to let the on-board ship personnel know where they will find you on the ferry when it arrives at its destination so they can assist or guide you off the ship.
This simple procedure will ensure passengers who are blind or sight impaired can now travel to Vancouver Island with greater independence and confidence. Access for Sight Impaired Consumers would like to publicly thank Mr. Peter Simpson- Director, Fleet Operational Strategy, BC Ferry Services Inc. and the management of both Pacific Coach Lines and Greyhound for implementing this valuable service. Enjoy and smooth sailing!