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BC Ferries hikes Route 3 reservation fees by 33 per cent to boost off-peak travel

The number of reservations on saver fare sailings has doubled and prepaid fare cancellation fees have been reduced
N.Ferry Letter 1

As of April 1, BC Ferries has adjusted rates across the board — including a 33 per cent increase in reservation-only fees on Route 3. 

The rate change is to encourage travellers and commuters to book ahead and choose off-peak sailing times, said Jeff Groot, BC Ferries’ executive director of communications in an email to Coast Reporter.

Fare changes

There are three fare choices for travellers heading on BC Ferries routes between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland, and Powell River and Comox, all of which have recently been adjusted. The saver fares are the cheapest option. Starting at $39, saver fares are offered for less popular (off-peak) sailings and paid in full at the time of booking. 

There is no regular schedule for saver fares, however, some sailings such as the last one of the day on Route 30 – Tsawwassen to Nanaimo Duke Point – will generally have saver price points said Reet Sidhu, BC Ferries' Senior Communications Advisor.

The number of available reservations on saver fare sailings has doubled as of April 1.

The cancellation fees for prepaid fares have been reduced to $5 from $15. Prepaid fares can now be cancelled up to midnight the day before departure. Saver fares have a $5 cancellation four days or more before departure, and a $20 cancellation fee three or fewer days before departure. Reservation only bookings are non-refundable, have a $5 change fee and do not have a no-show fee.

The reservation only fee, an additional cost to make a booking, has increased to $20 from $15. Groot said the 33 per cent increase for reservations reflects the additional pressure this fare puts on the system. He said that many people who book multiple reservations either don’t show up at all or show up for one without cancelling their other bookings. Raising the reservation-only fee is meant to discourage this practice, according to him. 

“It takes significantly more time to check in a reservation only booking than a saver or prepaid booking due to additional payment needed at the terminal, leading to longer waiting times,” Groot said. 

Overall, Groot said that these pricing adjustments are designed to offer greater departure certainty. 

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.