Billy Bishop airport introduces new screening measures for ferry passengers

Passengers taking the ferry to Billy Bishop airport will now be subject to additional screening measures.

Only 10 per cent of airport travellers use the ferry, according to PortsToronto

The ferry to Billy Bishop airport takes just 90 seconds to cover 121 metres. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Passengers taking the ferry to Billy Bishop airport will now be subject to additional screening measures.

On an order from Transport Canada, the airport will now swab the luggage and personal belongings of random passengers to check for explosive devices.

Airport staff say the extra screening will not cause longer wait times on the ferry.

"It's not a significant measure in terms of time or effort," said Deborah Wilson of PortsToronto, which manages Billy Bishop airport.

Transport Canada introduced new guidelines in 2010 that require the operators of "certain domestic ferry facilities" to establish safety protocols to prevent threats to ferries and terminals.

PortsToronto says it was only recently informed that the airport ferry was being added to the list.

A short ride

The airport ferry takes just 90 seconds to cover the 121 metres of distance between Bathurst Quay and the Billy Bishop terminal, making it one of the quickest ferry rides in the world, according to PortsToronto.

Given the short journey, the airport did not itself identify the ferry as a major security concern.

"Transport Canada has asked us to implement this additional security, regardless of the fact that the ferry itself is only 90 seconds in length and that we see this as a very low risk," Wilson said.

Wilson added that the screening is not a response to recent ferry explosions in other countries, including a blast that injured as many as 25 people in Playa del Carmen, Mexico last month.

The number of travellers using the airport ferry has dropped dramatically since PortsToronto opened a pedestrian tunnel to the airport in 2015.

Since then, only 10 per cent of travellers opt for the ferry, according to the airport.