WATCH: BC Ferries officials say traffic volumes are way up over the past few years and the crowds only seem to be growing. April Lawrence reports.
It’s noon on Thursday and BC Ferries’ Swartz Bay terminal is packed.
It’s a one sailing wait and the 1:00 p.m. is already filling up.
It’s a sign of a growing trend — more cars are traveling between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland than BC Ferries has seen in years.
“Over the last several years traffic has been fairly stable, we’re really seeing it come back this year which is really good,” said Corinne Storey, Vice-President of Customer Services for BC Ferries.
In BC Ferries fiscal year, which ended March 31, vehicle traffic on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route was up nearly six per cent over the previous year.
On the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route volumes jumped even higher, rising more than seven per cent.
Officials say the major routes are so busy, they’re adding more sailings starting June 1 — nearly a month before the summer schedule starts.
“This is the first time we’ve done it in the last ten years so it really is showing how we have an increase in traffic and we’re meeting that need,” said Storey.
One reason being credited for the jump is the growing number of tourists to the island — people like Andy Molnar who is visiting from Toronto.
“Probably 40 years since I was here last time, a lot of changes, quite impressive,” said Molnar who was waiting at the Swartz Bay terminal.
And then there are those from the United States who say the low Canadian dollar makes travel here more attractive.
“At the moment it does ya, it’s very positive indeed so that helps,” said Ram Bedi from Seattle, who was in Victoria on business but often travels here as a tourist.
Lisa Weed, who runs the Snack Shack at the terminal, said she’s seen a huge increase in Australian tourists.
“Definitely Australians are traveling a whole more this year,” she said.
With festival season just beginning, and Memorial Day in the United States coming up, it’s only expected to get crazier in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Officials recommend you book ahead.