Travel Advisory: COVID-19 Update - Important information - Last updated April 23, 2021 View ×

Essential travel only, new travel restrictions

In support of the provincial travel restrictions Order M172 that went into effect on April 23, BC Ferries will deny travel to customers, including recreational vehicles, crossing between different health regions as defined by the Order. This affects the following routes:

  • Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay
  • Tsawwassen – Duke Point
  • Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands
  • Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay
  • Comox – Powell River
  • Port Hardy – Prince Rupert

Customers travelling on these routes will be asked if their travel is essential, and denied passage if it is not essential. Customers travelling on routes that operate within the same regional zone will be reminded they should be avoiding non-essential travel at this time. These restrictions are in effect until May 25th. 

Find out more about these restrictions including what the Province deems as reasons for essential travel here.
 

Masks are mandatory

All passengers must wear non-medical masks or face coverings when at terminals and on board ferries.  Learn more.
 

Transport Canada screening

For any route longer than 30 minutes, BC Ferries will screen all customers for COVID-19 symptoms and restrict travel to any customer that does not meet the screening requirements, as per the federal guidelines.  Learn more.
 

Indigenous Communities 

The Province of British Columbia advises that many First Nations communities have declared a state of emergency and enacted COVID-19 community protection by-laws including travel bans for non-residents and non-essential visitors. It is important to respect these restrictions in addition to the province-wide travel advisory. For more information, click here

 

Foot passengers

When travelling, we require customers wear a face covering onboard or in our terminals. Reservations for foot passengers are available for travel between Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands and our North Coast routes, and can now be made online.  On all other routes, foot passengers will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis until passenger capacity has been reached, and tickets may be purchased at the terminal.
 

Additional information

  • Customers requiring wheelchair assistance: We are unable to provide wheelchair assistance at terminals or on board ferries. If you require a wheelchair, request one at the terminal. We ask that you travel with your own wheelchair assistant if required.
  • For more information on travelling with BC Ferries during the COVID-19 Pandemic click here
  • Updates from our President and CEO Mark Collins
  • For more information on schedules visit bcferries.com/schedules

 

Read more

Important Update as of April 30, 2021:

Today, we are announcing the cancellation of the Route 3 Trial. The Trial was designed to address concerns we heard from the community following a series of consultations last Fall about the need to provide travel certainty and reduce congestion travelling from and to the Sunshine Coast. The Trial has become a divisive issue in the community, which certainly was not the intent.

 

It is evident that the issues are complex and more community conversation is needed before change can be considered. We extend our thanks to the many community leaders and elected representatives for their assistance in considering this proposal.
 

We will continue with travel as usual on Route 3 this summer. Read the full media advisory here.


A new, more certain way to travel from and to the Sunshine Coast this summer

You told us the current system isn’t working for you, so we want to test something different

During BC Ferries’ Moving Ahead Together engagement last Fall, we heard that planning for and being certain of travel times are some of the most important considerations in making travel less stressful and easier. You told us the existing model isn’t working and our employees also provided ideas for easing congestion on Route 3 between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Sunshine Coast (Langdale).

In response to this feedback, and after reviewing several concepts to improve service with the Ferry Advisory Committees, the District of Sechelt, Town of Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast Regional District, BC Ferries will be introducing changes this summer. The #Route3Trial is designed to make travelling from and to the Sunshine Coast a more certain and less stressful experience.

During the #Route3Trial, BC Ferries will:
  • Increase reservation space: from 40-50% on average, to 95% of the vessel
  • Provide free reservations on all Saver and Prepaid fares
  • Significantly lower your fares for travel at less busy times with a reservation
  • Reduce sailing waits and congestion at the terminal
  • Hold guaranteed space for Medical Assured Loading (MAL)
  • Make Travel Assistance Program (TAP) travel more certain

Among the changes to support the Trial, Langdale will become a fare-paid terminal for vehicle traffic. The round-trip cost will be lower for those travelling with a reservation.

The Trial is tentatively set to launch on May 26 when you can make prepaid bookings with free reservations for travel between June 21 through October 13. We are now finalizing details of the Trial, and will keep you up to date as more information becomes available.

KEEPING YOU INFORMED

We will ensure Sunshine Coast residents and visitors know about the Trial well in advance, including how to take advantage of new lower fares and free reservations, while still maintaining the flexibility of last-minute travel.

Here’s how BC Ferries intends to engage with the community and share information

  • BC Ferries’ CEO Mark Collins will be speaking to business and community groups on the Sunshine Coast
  • Information will be available to the public on bcferries.com
  • Updates will be posted regularly through social media
  • Local community newspaper articles
  • Ongoing community engagement throughout the Trial to learn if there are ways to further improve service
  • Input and engagement will be reviewed to determine the success of the Trial when it concludes in the Fall

The #Route3Trial means planning your ferry travel differently this summer

For customers with a reservation
  1. Tell us when you plan to travel by making a free reservation – you can do this up to 45-minutes in advance of your sailing.
  2. Book online at bcferries.com or contact our Customer Service Centre at 1-888-223-3779 and book by phone.
  3. Pay for your fare in full at the time of your booking.
  4. Choose between two new fares: Prepaid and Saver.

    Prepaid fares are $25 one-way for a standard vehicle and include a free reservation. Arrive at the terminal 30 to 90 minutes before your sailing. You no longer need to show up hours in advance to try and make a sailing. Your free reservation provides travel certainty.

    Saver is our best value fare, ranging from $14.50 to $22 one-way for a standard vehicle, including a free reservation. Saver fares are available on select sailings at less busy times. Arrive at the terminal 45 to 90 minutes before your sailing and you’re guaranteed a place onboard.

  5. Let us know if your travel plans change. You can make changes to your booking up to 45-minutes before your scheduled departure. Only some of our sailings are fully booked, so if you need to travel on short notice, or make a change, there should be space available on many sailings.
For walk-on customers 
  1. No need to reserve, just show up when you want to travel. Walk-on passengers will pay round-trip at Horseshoe Bay terminal only.
  2. Use your Experience Card for payment if you wish.
For customers without a reservation
  1. Visit bcferries.com to see if reservations are available on the sailing you want. If so, choose between making a free reservation, paying between $14.50 - $25, and being guaranteed to get on that sailing, or drive up to the terminal without a booking.
  2. Pay $33 for a one-way vehicle fare at the terminal and use your Experience Card for payment if you wish. Travel on the next available sailing, space permitting, in the order you arrive at the terminal. Sailing waits are possible during popular sailing times.
For commercial customers 
  1. Tell us when you plan to travel by making a free reservation – up to 45 minutes in advance of the sailing. All commercial customers now need to reserve, and we have increased reservation space to make that easier.

LOWER FARES, FREE RESERVATIONS, TRAVEL CERTAINTY

BC Ferries will introduce two new fares for the #Route3Trial, Prepaid and Saver fares, along with the existing At Terminal standard fare for vehicles travelling without a reservation. We will provide more details about these fares and fare conditions as we get closer to the #Route3Trial. During the Trial, 50% of the vehicle fares in the table below will be paid at Horseshoe Bay and the other half at Langdale.

Typical journey
What you pay now*
What you will pay during the #Route3trial
Round-trip with reservations in both directions on popular sailings
$67.05 to $95.00
$10 or $17 reservation fee each way
Round-trip Vehicle $47 Std / $36.10 E-card
Round-trip Adult Std $14 / $10.95 E-card
$60.95 (save $6.10 to $34.05)
Free reservation
Round-trip Vehicle $50.00
Round-trip Adult $10.95 at Horseshoe Bay, $0 from Langdale
Round-trip with reservations in both directions at less busy times
$67.05 to $95.00
$10 or $17 reservation fee each way
Round-trip Vehicle $47 Std / $36.10 E-card
Round-trip Adult Std $14 / $10.95 E-card
$39.95 to $54.95 (save $12.10 to $55.05)
Free reservation
Round-trip Vehicle $29 to $44
Round-trip Adult $10.95 from Horseshoe Bay, $0 from Langdale
Round-trip without reservations
$47.05 to $61.00
$36.10 for round-trip E-card vehicle
Round-trip Vehicle $47 Std / $36.10 E-card
Round-trip Adult Std $14 / $10.95 E-card
$76.95
$33 for vehicle each way AT TERMINAL fare
$10.95 for round-trip Adult $10.95 from Horseshoe Bay, $0 from Langdale
Round-trip walk on
$14.00 Standard fare
$10.95 E-card
$10.95

Addressing concerns and questions about the #Route3Trial

The ferry will be sold out months ahead. There won't be enough space for last minute travel.

This hasn’t been the experience on this route in the past. On average during the summer, only about one-third of sailings leave the dock full. On average in a normal year, only about 68 percent of the available ferry capacity is used, so there should be space available throughout the day. On peak days such as long weekends, sailings are in greater demand, and we are looking at options to stagger the release of reservation space to make it easier for last minute bookings.

BC Ferries is doing this trial for its own corporate objectives, not for the community.

Since last Fall, we’ve been engaging with communities to understand their concerns about travel on Route 3. We proposed this Trial in response to Sunshine Coast residents concerns about uncertainty around travel times, long waits at congested terminals, and lack of available reservations. We designed the Trial to address these issues.

I will have to trade flexibility for certainty.

We don’t believe the Trial trades one for the other. Our research and experience suggests that offering free reservations, increasing reservation space and being able to reserve 45-minutes in advance of a sailing provide both certainty and flexibility.

It will cost more to travel.

If you don’t take advantage of a free reservation, driving up will cost more. Travelling with a reservation will cost less. You can travel for about half the price at less busy times as you do now, with the additional benefit of a free reservation.

The trial favours visitors over residents. 

Sunshine Coast residents told us they wanted fewer line-ups, sailing waits and overloads. The Trial is designed to address these concerns. We are doubling the number of reservations on each sailing and eliminating the reservation fee to make reservations available for all.

Upper Sunshine Coast residents haven't been considered in the trial.

Upper Sunshine Coast residents were part of our Fall community engagement. We know you have the added challenge of the drive between Earls Cove and Langdale. BC Ferries is exploring options to provide a more flexible and efficient check-in process during the Trial to facilitate your ferry connections.

Some people may abuse the trial by buying multiple trips to resell at a higher price. 

During the summer, only about one-third of sailings leave the dock full. This number will drop as price incentives draw travellers to less busy sailings. You won’t need to resort to a third-party seller to get on. Buying up reservations won’t earn anyone a profit if there are more reservations available.

5% isn't enough space for Medical Assured Loading customers.

We chose 5% because that represents the highest volume of space on a single sailing used by residents in the past for this travel purpose. If we need more space during the Trial, we can adjust allocations.

I don't know when I will arrive at the terminal due to traffic or other delays.

If you need to change your travel plans due to a long-running appointment or other situation, you can change your reservation on the website from your mobile device; or phone us and we will do it for you. You can make changes up to 45-minutes before departure.

I don't have a credit card or internet access.

You don’t need either to make a reservation. You will be able to pay online and over the phone using Mastercard Debit or Visa Debit. Or you can visit the terminal administration office, book in advance, and pay with cash.

I’m being forced to make a reservation during the Trial.

No, you can still drive up to the terminal without a booking and purchase an At Terminal fare at a one-way cost of $33. You will travel on the next available sailing after customers with bookings and priority vehicles are loaded. But if you know more then 45 minutes in advance of a sailing that you will be travelling, you can make a free reservation, be guaranteed to travel on that sailing and pay less.

I can’t change my travel plans at the last minute during the Trial.

You can change your Prepaid or Saver booking up to 45 minutes before your scheduled departure time.

You can also cancel your Prepaid booking up to two hours before your scheduled departure time for a full refund, less a $10 cancellation fee. Saver fare bookings can be cancelled up to 11:59 PM the day before departure for a full refund of the fare, less a $10 cancellation fee.

I can’t use my Experience Card to make advance bookings.

During the Trial, the Experience Card will not provide a discount at the terminal.  Advanced purchase fares will always be cheaper than the At Terminal fare. Experience Cards cannot be used to pay for bookings online, but can still be used as a payment type at the terminal.

To request a refund of the balance of your Experience Card, you can contact the Customer Service Centre. Should the terms and conditions of the Experience card change, registered card holders will be notified.

You’re going to keep my full fare if I’m late to the ferry.
No, if you arrive late and miss your check-in window, you can use your Saver or Prepaid fare towards the cost of an At Terminal fare and just pay the difference in price. Your fare must be put towards a different sailing on the same route, on the same day. At Terminal fare conditions apply, so you will be boarded after reserved customers in the order you arrive on the next available sailing, based on space availability. 
Reservations already sell out now. The Trial will make that situation worse.
During the Trial, reservation space will increase from 40 to 50 percent to 95 per cent of the vessel. Our new discounted Saver fare provides an incentive for customers to travel on less busy sailings, which will help even out traffic throughout the day. This will reduce sailing waits and congestion at the terminal and make it easier for vehicles without a reservation to travel. 
I’m traveling on the Provincial Travel Assistance Program (TAP) and don’t know which fare to book.

If you’re travelling on TAP, select the Prepaid fare option. This can be done online or through our Customer Service Centre. At the moment, you will pay for your full fare in advance, which includes a free reservation, and then upon check-in at the terminal, the fare will be refunded back to your original form of payment and charged to the TAP form used to pay for travel.

Website modifications are underway to allow TAP bookings to be made without payment in advance and we’re hoping to have that feature in place around the start of the Trial.

Seniors don’t benefit from this Trial. 

BC Seniors will continue to travel free from Monday to Thursday (excluding holidays). You can take advantage of the new Saver fare and will pay less than you do now, and only be charged for the cost of the vehicle ($14.50 - $22 for one standard vehicle, one-way).

I’m a commuter and I can’t afford to prepay for all of my bookings in advance.

We are increasing reservation space so you should be able to reserve on shorter notice. We are also looking at staggering the release of reservation space to accommodate customers with last minute travel plans. On average during the summer, only about one-third of sailings leave the dock full.

GREATER TRAVEL CERTAINTY AND LESS STRESS

Your time of travel is guaranteed, and we predict fewer sailing waits.

LOWER FARES AND FREE RESERVATIONS

Book in advance and save with our new Prepaid and Saver fares. Bookings can be made up to 45-minutes prior to departure, providing you with travel flexibility.

REDUCED SAILING WAITS ON POPULAR SAILINGS

Lower fares on less busy sailings help even out traffic throughout the day, reducing congestion at the terminal and making it easier for vehicles without a reservation to travel.

A NOTE ABOUT CURRENT TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: The #Route3Trial is not intended to encourage incremental travel on BC Ferries while travel restrictions are in place. We continue to support the provincial travel restrictions and ask that our customers do the same. We also recognize that many on and off the Sunshine Coast must travel for essential reasons, including work and medical appointments. For those who are travelling for essential reasons, the #Route3Trial should result in less congestion at the terminal and sailings should be filled more evenly over the course of the day, which will make it safer and easier for you to travel. When the Province lifts travel restrictions, the increased reservation space should continue to reduce the number of long delays at the terminals and minimize the time you spend there.
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