British Columbia

BC Ferries to offer fare discounts on major routes to help fix reservation system

BC Ferries says some travellers book multiple $10 reservations but only use one, which makes it look like ferry terminals are busier than they really are.

Corporation says some travellers book multiple reservations for single sailing but only use one

BC Ferries says changes are coming to its reservation system to prevent people from making multiple reservations on the same sailing but only using one.

BC Ferries says in spring 2019 it will offer discount fares on sailings between Vancouver Island and Vancouver at off-peak times.

The corporation has not yet announced how much the discounts will be, but they will apply to sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen and Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay.

The change, part of a complete revamping of the reservation system, is being made to help prevent travellers from booking multiple reservations but only using one.

A spokesperson for BC Ferries says this practice impacts up to 15 per cent of sailings on these routes and artificially inflates how busy terminals are.

Vehicles wait to board a ferry at Tsawwassen terminal.

One-way reservations on these routes cost $10 if booked seven or more days in advance, $17 if made less than seven days in advance, and $21 if made on the same day.

Currently, people who book reservations only pay the reservation fee, and then the fare when they arrive at the terminal. BC Ferries says too many people are willing to lose $10 on a reservation if they don't need it.

Also, reservations are held until 30 minutes before sailing, meaning people waiting stand-by only find out at the very last minute if they will get on a sailing once BC Ferries determines which reservations were no shows.

Record level of vehicles, passengers

In the spring, BC Ferries expects that travellers at off-peak times, who pay for their reservation and fares up front, will receive a discount.

BC Ferries says this should also encourage more people, who can, to avoid travelling on busy weekends and travel at other less busy times. It also hopes the initiative will ease overall traffic at busy times.

In its last quarterly report, BC Ferries reported record levels of vehicles on board and the highest passenger figures in two decades. The corporation provided around 700 more sailings compared to the same period in 2017.

With files from CHEK News.