Vehicle backlog continues at BC Ferries following ongoing mechanical issue

Vehicle backlog continues at BC Ferries following ongoing mechanical issue
On July 21, vehicles were waiting outside the ticket booth for sailings with open space.

On Friday, lineups at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal starts long before the ticket booth, as people without reservations show up in hopes of making it onto a sailing.

John Wragg is on his way to Vancouver, without a reservation.

“Now I’m here parked right there in the lineup, looks like I’m going to be on the eight p.m. sailing,” Wragg said.

But not everyone has the luxury of time.

Stewart Penington estimates that he takes the ferry 400-times a year moving construction material to and from the Lower Mainland, sometimes twice a day, but getting a reservation is almost impossible.

BC Ferries is once again experiencing a backlog of traffic and multi-sailing waits on its busiest routes due to a ferry being taken out of service for a mechanical issue.

Hopeful ferry travellers leaving Swartz Bay heading to Tsawwassen will have to wait until the 11 p.m. sailing as all other sailings are sold out.

Those leaving Tsawwassen are facing a similar situation with only the 1 a.m. with room left on board for vehicles.

This backlog of traffic for BC Ferries is the result of the Coastal Celebration being pulled from service due to ongoing mechanical issues. The vessel was supposed to sail four round-trips per day, meaning there are eight fewer sailings on the route until at least July 26.

“I was unable to, for at least the last four days to make a reservation for today. And I can’t afford to go sit in line. It’s not that I love sitting in line. The problem is that I have to get to the supplier by a certain time to even get loaded,” Penington said.

BC Ferries says it’s reorganizing reservations made on the now cancelled sailings of the Coastal Celebration which will be in drydock for repairs for at least a week.

The reservation system is locked while those people are placed on other sailings.

According to Karen Johnston, executive director of communications and engagement of BC Ferries, reservations are opening up daily.

“Look for recently unlocked sailings at around six in the evening, and then first thing in the morning. Because there are still spots available to book. There are not a lot. But they are available for people who are looking to make travel arrangements that way,” Johnston said.

But for regular customers like Penington, it’s frustrating because he can’t guarantee jobs ahead of time without knowing whether or not he’ll make the sailing.

“It’s just wrong when you completely lock out the reservation system. I guess BC Ferries is not fulfilling a promise, because they are not making any promises,” Penington said.

To try to deal with the backlog, BC Ferries has added an extra 11 a.m. sailing from Swartz Bay Saturday and Sunday.

READ MORE: BC Ferries vessel pulled from service along major Victoria to Vancouver route

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham
Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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