BC Ferries has announced a new fare structure that offers cheaper fares during non-peak sailing times for the three major routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
The new cheaper Saver and Prepaid options are intended to distribute traffic throughout the day so that there are fewer passengers on the popular sailings on the Tsawwassen–Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen–Duke Point), and Horseshoe Bay–Departure Bay routes.
With mass vaccinations across the province slated for the coming months, the new fares will help address rising travel demand when health safety travel restrictions are lifted.
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The new Saver fare on select sailings year-round is deemed as the most affordable fare choice, with rates ranging from $49 to $73.70 for a car and driver, including a free reservation.
The other new option of a Prepaid fare is ideal for passengers who want to have a more efficient experience at the terminal check-in. The rate is $74.70 for a car and driver, plus a $10 reservation fee when booked more than seven days in advance or a $17 reservation fee within seven days.
These options are in addition to BC Ferries’ existing regular options of the At Terminal and Reservation Only fares. At Terminal costs $74.70 for a car and driver, while Reservation Only is $74.70 plus a $17 reservation fee.
BC Ferries says it is introducing the new fare structure on these three major routes as they account for about 60% of the ferry corporation’s overall traffic.
The new fare options are being implemented now to test the system and ensure a smooth process for passengers once it is safe for non-essential travel.
“When the Province lifts essential travel orders, these fare options will provide our customers more value, flexibility and certainty. They will also help spread traffic across the day, reducing sailing waits at popular times,” said Mark Collins, president and CEO of BC Ferries, in a statement.
As part of its agreement with the federal and provincial governments for receiving $308 million in emergency operating funding through the end of 2021, BC Ferries is required to cap fare increases through 2024. BC Transit and TransLink also have the same requirements in exchange for their share of the Safe Restart funding.
COVID-19 continues to depress transportation demand. BC Ferries saw 2.9 million passengers and 1.6 million vehicles over the final three months of 2020, representing a decrease of 40% and 22%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2019.