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BC Ferries

The British Columbia Ferry Corporation 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.
BC Ferries' new logo.

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.

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

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. 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.

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