Swartz Bay Ferry terminal saw a four-ferry wait on Thanksgiving weekend. (photo BC Ferries)

BC Ferries asked passengers to disembark and volunteer to take later sailings

Plan underway to shift travelers on long weekends; three-hour waits this Thanksgiving

After a three-hour wait for some passengers this Thanksgiving weekend, BC Ferries is working on offering discounted prices for passengers willing to sail earlier or later in the day. Darin Guenette, a public affairs manager for BC Ferries, said they hope this will reduce wait times, especially near holidays.

“Our IT systems have been developing and upgrading so we can look at considering different prices during different times,” Guenette said. “If you can go at nine at night instead of three in the afternoon, you’ll get a lower price.”

READ MORE: New BC Ferries website coming soon

He said the discounted pricing may come within the next few years. BC Ferries is also in the beginning stages of building new vessels with more capacity and deck space, but they won’t be ready for at least three years. Until then, Guenette recommends reserving your trip. BC Ferries posts an advisory on their website with what they expect will be their busiest times, so passengers can try to schedule around them.

This Thanksgiving weekend, despite adding nearly 80 extra sailings, BC Ferries service between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen asked passengers to disembark and volunteer to take later sailings. On Monday, a four-vessel wait for passengers without reservations lasted from 11 a.m. until the 8 p.m. sailing.

READ MORE: Gulf Islands to get smaller ferries, more sailings

“Traveling as a foot passenger is usually advantageous because the vessels rarely will hit their maximum number of people they can carry. They will overload on vehicles, but they rarely overload for people. If it happens, funny enough, it tends to happen Thanksgiving,” Guenette said, adding that the Victoria marathon also might be a factor in increased traffic this past weekend.

BC Ferries can only add so many extra sailings before the crew hits their maximum hours they can work. Although they’ve tried adding sailings through the night of the Thanksgiving weekend, Guenette said they weren’t popular and are not a realistic option.

READ MORE: BC Ferries overbook, ask volunteers to disembark Thanksgiving weekend


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