The Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre comprises several buildings along the waterfront in Bamfield, B.C. The centre is accessed by land or by water. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Bamfield boat service increases following fatal bus accident

Science students taking MV Frances Barkley to Bamfield marine station

Lady Rose Marine Services has seen a marked increase in students taking its passenger vessel to Bamfield in the weeks following a tragic bus accident on the gravel road leading to the coastal Vancouver Island community.

Two students from the University of Victoria were killed and several others injured when a bus rolled over an embankment at the 36-kilometre marker of the gravel Bamfield Main road, near the Carmanah Main Junction, on Sept. 13.

The bus, carrying 48 people including first-year marine biology students from UVic, was enroute to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre for a weekend workshop.

READ: Two killed after bus crashes taking university students to Bamfield

“We’ve been inundated (with) students going to the marine station, which is good,” Lady Rose Marine Services owner Mike Surrell said.

“We’re doing a special rate for kids. Because of the incident that happened with the bus we’ve purposely dropped our rate to less than half so students can afford to get to the marine station.”

The MV Frances Barkley passenger and cargo vessel makes regular sailings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to Bamfield, and Surrell said learning institutions have also been booking charters for alternate days.

“We’ve been finding some of the classes have been doing their teachings while they’re sailing,” he added.

Surrell has teamed up with Bill Surry from the Alberni Athletic Hall to provide accommodation for students the night before early-morning sailings.

“After the accident I talked with Mike (Surrell) and Kelly (Clement, a field trip coordinator at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre). Now the UVic people got a hold of me last week because they said they have three or four classes, including one later this month,” Surry said.

The Alberni Athletic Hall has dorm facilities available—they provide dorms for the West Coast Hockey Prep Camp for several weeks each summer—with 40 new mattresses available. “We haven’t got them put away for winter. We decided we could put them on the floor upstairs and (students) just bring their bedrolls and sleep up there,” Surry said.

“We want to try and keep them off the road as much as possible. That road, especially coming into winter, is not a great road to be travelling at night.”

A spokesperson from the University of Victoria couldn’t confirm whether the university has been sending students to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre aboard the MV Frances Barkley. UVic is one of several post-secondary institutions that send students to BMSC for marine science classes, he said.

He added that UVic continues to conduct an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

RELATED: U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

RELATED: Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

Surrell also owns a former BC Ferries car ferry that he purchased in 2016 with the intent to convert it to a passenger and cargo vessel. As soon as he brought it to the Alberni harbour he was flooded with requests to keep it as a car ferry and provide car service to Bamfield and Ucluelet. Surrell is still waiting for government approval for such a service.

READ: Potential vehicle ferry from Alberni harbour to Bamfield and Ucluelet

READ: Ucluelet mayor says highway closure shows need for car ferry between Port Alberni and West Coast

There is no infrastructure in place in Port Alberni, Bamfield or Ucluelet to accommodate car ferry service, only passenger and cargo service.

Interest in the ferry has increased again since the Bamfield Main bus accident, Surrell said.

“We’ve been inundated with car ferry requests,” he said.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A former BC Ferries vessel sits idle in the water across from Lady Rose Marine Services in Port Alberni’s harbour on a foggy Saturday morning in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

North Island College announces 2020 graduation award winners

North Island College has announced the award recipients for the 2020 Graduation… Continue reading

Alberni Valley volunteer wins BC Hockey award

Kellie Steel named one of nine unsung heroes through COVID-19

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Fire damages home on Fifth Avenue in Port Alberni

Fire crews spend late morning hours knocking down blaze

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read