BCF announces 50% off vehicle fares promotion

Sounder News

Tuesday, October 27 2015

BC Ferries announced this past Thursday it would be offering a fleet-wide pricing promotion of 50 per cent savings on vehicle fares starting mid-November. 

Passengers travelling on select sailings will receive the discount off the standard vehicle fare. As with the previous passenger fare promotion, those who utilize the Experience Card will pay the lower promotional price rather than the vehicle fare under the Experience Card program. 

For Gabriolans who typically use the Experience Card, the net savings under the promotion is $3.65.

The 50 per cent fare discount will apply to cars, motorcycles, trucks, SUVs, vans or recreational vehicles (discount applies to the first 20 feet of vehicle length only). On the South Coast routes, the promotion will be in effect on select Monday through Thursday and Saturday sailings from November 16 – December 19.

On the North Coast routes, including Port Hardy–Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert–Haida Gwaii and Alliford Bay–Skidegate routes as well as the Discovery Coast Connector, the half-price discount will apply on all sailings from Nov. 15 – Dec. 20.

“BC Ferries is offering discount travel to gauge our customers’ response to the concept of saving while travelling on off-peak sailings,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. 

“As we progress with our Fare Flexibility and Digital Experience Initiative, set to roll out in 2017, we are gaining valuable information on shifting our pricing structure to offer savings based on time of day travel, a model commonly used in the transportation and travel industries.”

According to BC Ferries, the preliminary results of the passenger promotion BC Ferries offered in September and October show it played a part in increased year on year traffic volumes. The company suggests the promotion also helped to reduce congestion at terminals by encouraging both foot and vehicle passengers to travel on off-peak sailings. 

BC Ferries is planning another pricing promotion for next spring.

Steven Earle, Interim Chair for the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) issued a statement on Friday saying the FAC members were pleased to hear BC Ferries is offering the discount on fares.

“The FAC requested a discount of this type at its May 11, 2015, meeting with BC Ferries. 

“At that time we asked for a 25 per cent overall reduction for drivers and vehicles on sailings from Nanaimo after 9:00 p.m. The goal was to assess the impact on overall ridership and on reductions in the peak loads during the day.”

He pointed out that while the discount program does offer a 21 per cent discount on vehicle fares for Experience users, “You can’t take your car onto the ferry without a driver, and that fare is not being reduced during this period. 

“Experience Card driver fares are $6.55, so if we include that in the calculation, the actual reduction on those late morning, early afternoon and late evening sailings from the Nanaimo side is from $23.45 to $19.80, again a saving of $3.65, but in this case only a 16 per cent reduction.

“That is a far cry from BC Ferries announced 50 per cent reductions. But still, it’s a start, and we’re pleased that something is being done to reduce fares and to use fare structures to reduce overloads on some sailings.”

The Gabriola FAC is meeting with BC Ferries on November 2 (open to the public 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Gabriola Arts Council Hall, next to the post office). 

Earle said, “At that time we will discuss this issue and ask for a commitment from them to share the ridership data related to this initiative.”