Fast ferry service between Victoria and Seattle suspended until 2022

There will be no fast ferry service between British Columbia and Washington state for the rest of the year.

The Victoria Clipper, a passenger-only vessel that travels between Pier 69 in downtown Seattle and the Belleville Terminal in downtown Victoria in two hours and 45 minutes, has halted operations until spring 2022 due to reduced service demand.

Service had only just resumed in mid-September after 17 months of cancelled sailings while non-essential travel between Canada and the United States was forbidden.

Clipper CEO David Gudgel says despite the easing of federal border restrictions, passenger demand has not been high enough to cover operating costs and the company has decided to suspend sailings because it is “losing significant money.”

He said some employees have been with the 35-year-old company for three decades and, unfortunately, the majority will have to be furloughed until service resumes.

During normal peak season operations, the company typically maintains a staff of 200 year-round and seasonal employees. 

“There were a lot of tears yesterday as we had to make this difficult announcement,” said Gudgel speaking Tuesday on CBC’s On The Island. “Unfortunately, some of the federal programs went away as of Sept. 4, so that is an issue.”

The company has arranged for passengers with travel booked on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday to be refunded and accommodated on B.C. Ferries. Complimentary motor coach service will be provided for passengers to the Canadian terminals.

Passengers with travel on future dates will be offered a full refund, or a travel credit with an additional 15 per cent added to the refunded amount.

The decision to close, said Gudgel, will help the company come back strong in the spring to prepare for peak summer season. He is hoping come spring, people will feel more at ease travelling internationally and business will improve.

Gudgel anticipates a March service re-launch.

To find more information about refunds, and to keep an eye on service updates, visit the company’s website.

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