Debit cards can now be used to purchase items on Swartz Bay - Tswassen vessels. (Photo Credit: BC Ferries).

Debit cards can now be used to purchase items on Swartz Bay – Tswassen vessels. (Photo Credit: BC Ferries).

BC Ferries is now allowing Interac payments on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route.

On Wednesday, the company started allowed Interac payment on the Spirit of British Columbia vessel as part of a two-month trial.

Payment by debit will be available on all ferries on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route on Thursday. After two months, BC Ferries will assess Interac payments to see if they work and if the system can be added to ferries on other routes.

Prior to the trial, only cash and credit cards could be used for payment onboard. However, foot passengers could use debit at BC Ferries terminals’ self-service ticketing kiosks.

Darin Guenette, BC Ferries public affairs manager, said the reason debit cards weren’t accepted in the past was due to connectivity issues.

“You need real-time, reliable connectivity,” Guenette said, adding that the route has many dead zones.

Guenette said they have been working the last two years on improving their LTE coverage. The company also had to bring pin pads onto the vessels.

The debit service will not affect BC Ferries Wi-Fi, Guenette said.

And while people may be pleased to finally pay using their debit cards while on the ferry, Guenette said drivers heading into the terminal should not expect Interac payments at the vehicle booths anytime soon. According to Guenette, using pin pads for debit cards will lead to longer wait times and the tap-and-go technology has a $100 limit, which many vehicles would exceed.

Alexa Huffman