WATCH: BC Ferries reminds passengers of zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs. Meanwhile other ferry companies say the sale of booze has been beneficial. Isabelle Raghem reports.
Unless you’re taking a 15-hour long voyage on BC Ferries, you won’t see any booze on board. It’s part of the company’s zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs for all passengers including drivers, vehicle passengers and walk-on customers.
BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall says the number of passengers who ignore the policy increases in the summer.
“We see with the sunshine coming out sometimes the beer tends to come out of the vehicle,” Marshall said.
In the last fiscal year, the company says police were called for 127 incidents of intoxication.
They have caught 37 people intoxicated since May 1.
“We’re a family show. You know we have a lot of children travelling with us and we want to make sure everyone is safe and can enjoy their ferry without being disrupted by another passenger,” Marshall said.
Just across the border, wine and beer has been sold on board Washington State Ferries for decades. The company says the pros of selling booze outweigh the few incidents of intoxication.
“Definitely goes towards the bottom line of Washington State Ferries,” Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling said. “We’re 100 per cent public funded so this is a way to offset those costs, and I can tell you that beer and wine are part of their sales, and a big part of sales made everyday.”
BC Ferries does sell booze on trips to Port Hardy, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii.
According to revenue numbers from 2016, passengers on those ferries spend on average four times more on food and beverages than on ferries that don’t sell booze.
Coho Ferries has been selling wine and beer on their trips since 2014. The Port Angeles to Victoria ferry says it has not only increased revenue but it’s enhanced the passenger experience.
“I think people enjoy the service,” Ryan Burles, president of Black Ball Ferry Line who operates Coho, said.”We’re very strict on out rules and what our procedures are, so we’ve been pleasantly surprised there have been no issues really.”
BC Ferries says being booze free sends a clear message against drinking and driving.