BC Ferries says long weekend sailings moving ‘smoothly,’ with busy Monday expected

BC Ferries says long weekend sailings moving 'smoothly,' with busy Monday expected
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

BC Ferries says it’s been smooth sailing this B.C. Day long weekend as it braces for what’s expected to be a busy Monday.

The long weekend is traditionally the busiest travel weekend of the year for the corporation, with as many as 580,000 passengers on all routes, according to Karen Johnston.

“Traffic has been moving very, very smoothly,” Johnston, executive director of communications and engagement at BC Ferries, told CHEK News Sunday.

But it’s likely the calm before the storm, with more passengers expected Monday — a traffic rush that could spill over into Tuesday.

“(Monday’s) going to be busy … What we also know is people tend to stay at their destinations for as long as they can. That’s completely responsible and expected,” said Johnston with a laugh, “so we see a concentration of return traffic.

“We’ll start to see that on Monday. It’ll be busy on Monday, and we’ll see it into the early part of Tuesday as well.”

Yet comparing Aug. 5, 2022 with Aug. 5, 2023, Johnston says the corporation is seeing a change in how customers travel.

She says that on Saturday, BC Ferries carried an estimated 15,201 vehicles and 53,648 foot passengers on the three major routes between Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver. That’s 6.6 per cent fewer vehicles and five per cent more passengers than the same day last year.

“This is not taking into account the minor routes. I don’t have passenger counts or vehicle counts for that,” said Johnston in an interview.

She says BC Ferries has experienced only minor waits this long weekend.

“We have had one sailing waits on our Tsawwassen to Nanaimo run. We’re not seeing that today (Aug. 6). Today we have a one sailing wait from Horseshoe Bay, but that’s going to clear quickly,” said Johnston around 4 p.m.

It starkly contrasts the chaotic Canada Day long weekend when travellers faced multiple cancellations and sailing waits. On top of that, the corporation’s website crashed, and one of its key vessels was out of service.

Last Wednesday, CEO Nicolas Jimenez asked customers to “have faith” as he looked to assure the travelling public that the corporation was back on calmer waters.

“The Canada Day long weekend, don’t forget, the Coastal Celebration was not in service,” recalled Johnston. “That took an immense amount of capacity out of the system.”


Hoping to catch the ferry Monday?

“There are still bookings available,” added Johnston.

“If you can travel at the off-peak times, say the middle of the day, you’ll probably have a better chance of securing one of those bookings. Of course, you can always travel as a foot passenger.”

She says customers with bookings should arrive at the terminal 45-60 minutes before their sailing and have their booking number ready at the ticket booth.

Those needing to take a ferry this long weekend are encouraged to check the BC Ferries app, Current Conditions page or Twitter for updates.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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