Smooth sailing? BC Ferries sees only minor delays on busy B.C. Day

Smooth sailing? BC Ferries sees only minor delays on busy B.C. Day
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

Monday was supposed to be the busiest day in what’s traditionally the busiest weekend of the year for BC Ferries.

As ferry travellers and even the corporation braced for congestion this B.C. Day long weekend, what they’re seeing is something to celebrate.

“The weekend has gone very well. Not many sailing waits. Smooth passage for many of our customers,” Karen Johnston, BC Ferries’ executive director of communications and engagement, told CHEK News.

On Monday at Swartz Bay, people were happy, including one passenger who said she “had no problems at all,” another who said “everything was good all the way around” and a third who said “it was quite quiet. It was smooth. It was really nice.”

But at Departure Bay in Nanaimo, there were a few delays Monday, according to Johnston.

It should stay busy at terminals as the long weekend comes to an end, but that’s to be expected, with the rush possibility spilling over into Tuesday.

Yet getting home wasn’t smooth for everyone — the Malahat, bumper-to-bumper, with music fans making the slow trek home from Sunfest. And on Highway 4 in Port Alberni, where a road closure forcing lengthy delays was scrapped this weekend to damper traffic.

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“They want to stay at their destination for as long as possible. So the concentration of return traffic home tends to be concentrated,” added Johnston.

As many as 580,000 passengers are expected on BC Ferries this long weekend — and more seem to be ditching the car to travel by foot. The corporation says it carried 15,547 vehicles and 54,878 passengers on Sunday, which is 13.6 per cent fewer vehicles and four per cent more passengers than the same day last year.

The reason for some is likely lessons learned from travel chaos in July.

“I mean, you saw the impact of that. The immediate impact,” recalled Johnston. “It took an immense amount of capacity out of the system.”

That’s when travellers experienced a Canada Day long weekend plagued by ferry cancellations, sailing waits, a crashed BC Ferries website and an out-of-service vessel.

Now crews are happy the Coastal Celebration is back in the water.

“And I think that that is a massive contributing factor to the fact that we are running smoothly at most of our terminals,” said Johnston.

A much-needed long weekend win for BC Ferries as it begins the long process of restoring passenger confidence.

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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