BC Ferries will be increasing its passenger capacity on the remaining two routes serving Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
The ferry corporation says starting next month, some of the scheduled cargo-only sailings on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen and Duke Point-Tsawwassen routes will accept all traffic including passengers.
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The Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route will accept all passengers beginning on May 11. Currently, one sailing each way is dedicated to only cargo.
For the changes to the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route, the current four daily cargo-only sailings each way will be reduced to two daily cargo-only sailings each way starting on May 7. Two of these daily sailings each way will open up to all traffic.
All of the altered sailings are scheduled during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon periods.
For vessels that continue to operate as cargo-only sailings, the number of passengers on board is limited to just 84, and they provide priority loading to commercial vehicles transporting goods.
The ferry corporation says essential service workers are loaded on a first-come, first-served basis after commercial vehicles on these cargo-only sailings. If there is space after commercial vehicles and essential workers, terminal operators may allow other traffic onboard.
BC Ferries has implemented a number of health safety measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including a 50% reduction in vessel capacities to allow for proper physical distancing. It has also shuttered hot food options and non-essential retail on vessels and at terminal facilities, along with enhanced cleansing practices. With Transport Canada’s permission, it is allowing passengers to remain in their vehicles on closed decks.
A traffic decline of 80% across the entire ferry system has prompted the ferry corporation to reduce its sailing frequencies and temporarily suspend its major Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo route. The Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen and Duke Point-Tsawwassen routes have been retained due to their importance for cargo.