Debit payment will be an option for BC Ferries fares by the end of March

Mar 2 2020, 11:04 am

An overhaul of the physical fare payment infrastructure at BC Ferries terminals will allow the introduction of debit card payment.

The ferry corporation announced on Monday that passengers will soon be able to use debit cards to pay their fares at ticketing areas for both vehicles and foot passenger ticketing areas. This is slated to be introduced across the entire ferry system by the end of March.

Currently, debit cards can only be used for purchases onboard vessels, not fares — except for the terminals of Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay, Port Hardy, McLoughlin Bay (Bella Bella), Prince Rupert, and Skidegate. Debit cards can also be used at a handful of terminals with self-service ticketing kiosks for foot passengers.

But the installation of new PIN pads expands payment options, providing passengers with tap and pay capability for both credit and debit, which will help speed up the ticketing process for passengers with transactions under the $100 tap limit.

“BC Ferries waited to install debit to ensure tap capability was available to help process transactions,” reads a release. “BC Ferries’ customers have been asking for the use of debit as a form of payment, and the company is now able to provide the option.”

Minor terminals will receive the new payment infrastructure first, while the major terminals for the routes serving Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island will see the update towards the end of the month.

In its latest financial statement for the three months ending on December 31, 2019, the third quarter of the current fiscal year, the ferry corporation carried 4.8 million passengers and two million vehicles, representing an increase of 0.7% and 1.6%, respectively, compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

As of the end of the third quarter, the company has carried 18.3 million passengers and 7.3 million vehicles this year to date, which is a year-over-year increase of 0.2% and 1.3%, respectively.

There was a net loss of $8.3 million for the quarter — about $4.6 million greater than the net loss of the same quarter in the previous year — but BC Ferries asserts this is a normal pattern due to the seasonality of ferry travel when traffic is lower and vessel maintenance is conducted.

The ferry corporation’s total revenue for the quarter increased by $3.2 million to $210.9 million compared to the same quarter last year, and total revenue for the first three quarters increased by $33.4 million to $786.7 million, compared to the previous year.

“The increase in revenue is mainly a result of increased vehicle traffic, retail revenue and the provincial contribution for its portion of the fare initiatives,” reads a release.