BC Ferries customers are allowed to reserve multiple consecutive sailings in advance for $10 each. (photo BC Ferries)

BC Ferries not as full as reported due to ability to book consecutive sailings

Multiple reservation booking strategy artificially inflates BC Ferries “current conditions”

The volume of ferry traffic shown in “current conditions” displayed by BC Ferries has at times been artificially inflated by vehicle customers making multiple reservations for consecutive sailings to ensure they don’t miss the boat.

The reservation fee for booking a sailing seven or more days in advance dropped to $10 in April. This nominal fee paired with the BC Ferries website allowing customers with a myBCFerries Account to make up to 10 reservations at a time, has led some customers to buy the “extra insurance.”

RELATED: Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

If the customers make it to the first sailing, they don’t always let the teller know that their subsequent reservations should be canceled, leaving the vessels to appear more fully booked than they are.

“We are not in a position to question customers on their bookings. They may be booking for family members to ride on different sailings,” said Deborah Marshall, director of media relations for BC Ferries.

RELATED: BC Ferries asked passengers to disembark and volunteer to take later sailings

Reservations are $10 if made seven or more days in advance, $17 if made less than 7 days up to the day before travel, and $21 if made for same day travel. The reservations must be claimed at the ticket booth between 60 minutes and 30 minutes prior to the sailing departure.

While the issue of multiple bookings doesn’t affect the number of vehicles that get on the ferry, as reservations that are unclaimed 30 minutes prior to departure are released, allowing other vehicles to board, the issue could frustrate customers planning their travels by monitoring the “current conditions” tab on the BC Ferries website. It could also motivate more people to reserve out of concern for not making it on a ferry that appears heavily booked.

BC Ferries is launching a new website in Spring 2019 to roll out a new pricing initiative that will offer discounts to customers to shift demand to non-peak times in order to cut wait times and fully utilize the fleet.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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