Travellers deal with long waits at BC Ferries this summer

Travellers deal with long waits at BC Ferries this summer

WATCH: Long waits at BC Ferries seem to be happening more and more often this summer and after unprecedented traffic levels this spring, it could end up being the busiest summer yet.  Tess van Straaten reports.

Another weekend and more long line-ups at BC Ferries, as travellers deal with numerous sailing waits from Swartz Bay to Tsawassen.

“We’ve been waiting a long time,” a woman coming from Salt Spring Island told CHEK News Friday evening. “We just came over from Fulford Harbour and we’re trying to get the Vancouver ferry but everyone is trying to get the Vancouver ferry right now.”

Despite hourly sailings to meet peak summer demand, there was a four-sailing wait late Friday afternoon at Swartz Bay.

But last weekend, the four-sailing wait was on the side with traffic piling up at Tsawassen during what is shaping up to be an extremely busy summer for BC Ferries, which just reported record-breaking traffic levels in April, May and June.

“I think it’s crazy and with the wildfires all the flights were cancelled off the Island so all the traffic goes to the ferries,” another woman told us. “It definitely seems busier.”

Smoky skies, raging wildfires across the province and evacuation orders have certainly complicated summer travel.

But BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall says long waits are pretty typical this time of year — especially on weekends and in August, which is peak travel time.

Marshall also says more and more customers are also making reservations, which leaves less space for standby traffic, but reservations are also selling out.

“In previous years, you could usually find a reservation and now we’re finding reservation space sells out,” says Marshall.

Reservations range from 45 to about 75 per cent of available space. But even people with reservations are running into trouble due to long line-ups at the ticket booth.

“This is the first time we actually came early for a reservation and we couldn’t actually get through because of that,” another customer told CHEK News. “It’s almost like those toll booths need to be moved back a bit to allow for more cars.”

The transportation troubles are expected to be even worse next weekend, which is Labour Day long weekend and the last long weekend of summer.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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