Heavy vehicle traffic, potential sailing cancellations amid busy weekend at Swartz Bay terminal: BC Ferries

Heavy vehicle traffic, potential sailing cancellations amid busy weekend at Swartz Bay terminal: BC Ferries

Amid a busy weekend for travel, BC Ferries is advising customers travelling from Swartz Bay to arrive with “ample time” due to heavy traffic conditions outside the terminal.

The company took to Twitter on Saturday around noon and warned of heavy traffic volume at the terminal near Sidney, while also noting its pay parking facilities had reached capacity.

“If travelling as a foot passenger, please consider taxi service, public transit, the BC Ferries Connector Bus or being dropped off at the terminal,” BC Ferries said in a travel advisory.

It’s a similar story in Nanaimo, as pay parking at the Departure Bay terminal has also reached capacity, according to the company.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island departed 54 minutes behind schedule for the 11:00 a.m. sailing from Swartz Bay “due to time taken to load and unload the vessel given today’s heavy volume of traffic,” BC Ferries said.

The vehicle backup has been ongoing since early Saturday morning, with video footage sent to CHEK News showing a traffic jam along the Patricia Bay Highway at 8:40 a.m.

Meanwhile, several ferry sailings between Swartz Bay, Otter Bay and Village Bay are also facing potential cancellation today (Aug. 20) due to a lack of staff on the Queen of Cumberland.

As BC Ferries’ crewing teams work to find replacement staff, as of 10:40 a.m. it says the following sailings are at risk of cancellation:

  • 2:40 p.m. departing Swartz Bay
  • 3:35 p.m. departing Otter Bay
  • 4:10 p.m. departing Village Bay
  • 5:25 p.m. departing Swartz Bay
  • 6:30 p.m. departing Village Bay
  • 7:05 p.m. departing Otter Bay
  • 8:05 p.m. departing Swartz Bay
  • 8:55 p.m. departing Otter Bay
  • 9:30 p.m. departing Village Bay

BC Ferries says it requires specific staffing levels on board a vessel to ensure passenger safety while following Transport Canada regulations. “…should any sailings be impacted, we will notify customers via Service Notice as soon as the information is confirmed,” it said.

Staffing challenges have also led to Saturday afternoon and evening sailing cancellations on the Salish Haron, affecting customers in Tsawwassen, Sturdies Bay, Village Bay, Otter Bay and Long Harbour.

Ahead of the weekend, BC Ferries said it was bracing for a busy Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on a handful of routes between Vancouver Island, the Mainland and the Sunshine Coast.

It urged customers travelling on routes between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay, Tsawwassen), Nanaimo (Duke Point), Victoria (Swartz Bay) and the Sunshine Coast (Langdale) to book in advance.

“If you are planning to travel without a booking, arrive at the terminal as early as possible and be prepared for sailing waits and hot weather conditions,” the company said in an advisory Wednesday.

BC Ferries’ All Routes Status list can be found here.


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