‘Hullo’ to new passenger fast-ferry service between Nanaimo and Vancouver

bill barilko

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Mar 4, 2009
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It's been tried a number of times and this latest effort seems to have a snowball in hell's chance of making it



‘Hullo’ to new passenger fast-ferry service between Nanaimo and Vancouver
Apr 19, 2023 | 6:00 AM

NANAIMO — It is hoped the Harbour City will give its new ferry connection a warm ‘Hullo’.

Vancouver Island Ferry Company (VIFC) have officially unveiled their new brand and other key elements of a fast-ferry service due to begin operation in late summer 2023, linking the downtowns of Nanaimo and Vancouver.

Alastair Caddick, CEO with VIFC, told NanaimoNewsNOW launching the ‘Hullo’ branding is the next step in bringing back a fast ferry service to the region.

“Vancouver Island Ferry Company wanted to come out with an innovative service brand that came across as friendly, fun, was very easy to remember…that was really the genesis for ‘Hullo’ that will be branded on the ferries and will be what people will know this service by.”

An official event on Wednesday, April 19 event at the Nanaimo Port Authority will officially debut the new look, as well as commence some construction work on site.

Creation of a guest welcome centre and a 400-stall parking lot will be part of a physical footprint for ‘Hullo’ and VIFC in Nanaimo.


Two brand new ships are undergoing sea trials in Vietnam before making the trek to Nanaimo and debuting as part of the new ‘Hullo’ service to the Lower Mainland. (Vancouver Island Ferry Company)

The boats, which are being completed at the Damen shipyard in Vietnam, are painted in the updated colours of “Salish Green” with white and orange accents.

Caddick, speaking to NanaimoNewsNOW from Vietnam, said several operations staff are on site to go over final checks before the ships make a cross-Pacific trek to Vancouver Island.

“The vessels are now in the water, they’ve been launched. We’re doing safety trials, sea trials, in essence making sure these vessels will be able to deliver…the safe and beautiful experience we want to provide to customers.”

He expects the boats to sail into Vancouver Island waters in late June before final preparations, training and safety checks.

Each will be able to carry 354 passengers in three seating classes: comfort, premium and business. Vessels will also be equipped with Wi-Fi and a small selection of food and drinks.

‘Hullo’ is planning to make up to seven round trips daily while updates on schedules and fare pricing are yet to be announced.

The trip between Nanaimo and Vancouver is projected to take roughly 70 minutes and will include some late night sailings to accommodate sporting events or shows.


Sea trials are underway in Vietnam to ensure the vessels are up for Salish Sea waters. (Vancouver Island Ferry Company)

Finding people to run the boats is seen as the next big challenge for VIFC.

BC Ferries has struggled for crew numbers over recent years resulting in sailing delays and cancellations at times, however Caddick said ‘Hullo’ is run using smaller boats which require fewer crew as mandated by Transport Canada.

“We’ll be posting on our website near the end of this week…for the marine crews. Mates, deckhands and all those very important positions, so there will be a big recruiting push over the next four to eight weeks.”

Job postings and more information will be available on the VIFC website.

Among the hires already made is Wendy Williams, VIFC’s director of operations. Williams is the first Canadian woman to captain a mega cruise ship for a major company and will be a central figure in the service’s growth.

“We take pride in trying to set a new standard for ferry travel in British Columbia and our growing team remains relentlessly committed to creating a safe, efficient, and reliable service for our communities,” Williams said in a statement.

Return of fast ferry service was first announced in September 2021 through capital funding from Conqora Capital Partners and partnerships with the Port Authority and Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The announcement was met with a large amount of skepticism by locals weary of broken fast-ferry promises.

An in-person event in November 2022 to launch VIFC as a company was followed by news in January 2023 on the company building its ships and beginning a hiring process, steps which many previous iterations never got to.

Information on the service is also available on the new ‘Hullo’ website.


Both boats are adorned with the updated Hullo branding, unveiled by VIFC on Wednesday, April 19. (Vancouver Island Ferry Company)
 

petros

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Nov 21, 2008
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30 minutes quicker over a 40km stretch is a "fast ferry"?

But wait, It has wifi. What doesnt have wifi these days?
 

Taxslave2

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30 minutes quicker over a 40km stretch is a "fast ferry"?

But wait, It has wifi. What doesnt have wifi these days?
It is supposed to go to downtown hongcouver. That is a good half hr saved on its own.
I just wonder how long it will take before they go cap in hand to the government for subsidies.
 

petros

The Central Scrutinizer
Nov 21, 2008
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You missed one detail in the article-local 'First Nations' have been brought into provide a direct link to the federal gubmint money printing machine so there'll never be a shortage of the stuff.
Ports and navigable waters are the Fed's wet turf after all.
 

55Mercury

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May 31, 2007
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if they're using woke checkmarks over merit in their hiring, one of those boats will be saying "hullo" to the bottom of the Strait of Georgia ahead of schedule
 
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bill barilko

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Informed speculation from another transportation focused forum


1. (still) refuse luggage
2. high price
3. poor social media
4. terrible start (+ lame excuse)
5. significant and sudden schedule cut

6. something else is definitely up



These two vessels might soon present a great opportunity for BC Ferries. Should they become available, and I am sure they will very soon, to quickly start up a foot passenger service from Swartz to Tsaw. Demand is there; often 200+ walk ons. Through ticket/seamless dock side transfer to non stop transit to Bridgeport
 
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IdRatherBeSkiing

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May 28, 2007
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They tried a fast ferry between Toronto and Rochester. But they priced it so high, it failed. Never underestimate the cheapness of the customer and how much they are willing to endure some inconvenience/time if it saves them a buck or 2.
 

Taxslave2

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High winds have already cut sailings. About the third time your trip gets cancelled, that will be the end of it.