The policy to prioritize the loading of residents of ferry sailing destinations on BC Ferries will end tomorrow, July 31.
It was implemented earlier in the pandemic when deep service cuts, compounded by a 50% passenger capacity limit on each vessel, prompted the ferry corporation to prioritize essential trip demand.
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But BC Ferries announced this afternoon the policy will end, as it has provoked anger from non-resident passengers who have reportedly, in some cases, waited for as long as eight hours to board.
“We are all in this together and we appreciate your patience as our team works to navigate this new normal,” said Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ vice president and COO, in a statement.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of our workers, which includes verbal abuse. We take this issue so seriously that abuse of any kind may result in denial of service.”
The removal of priority loading returns BC Ferries to providing equal access to passengers without reservations, except for circumstances that include essential goods and supplies, and individuals travelling for medical treatment.
“More and more British Columbians are choosing to vacation at home this summer, and we are working to balance all the needs and pressures on the ferry system,” continued Storey.
“We know that many communities want to bring back tourism while ensuring safety in the communities to restart their economies. We believe this amendment to the Ministerial Order will help. BC Ferries will continue to load reserved traffic as booked and standby vehicles carrying essential goods on the next available sailing, before other customers.”
Over the past month, BC Ferries has ramped up capacity significantly through added frequencies, and reopened non-essential amenities and services, such as onboard hot food services, and the Quay Markets at the Tsawwassen and Nanaimo terminals.