A discount on vehicle fares could take some of the sting out of trips to Powell River and signal a change for how riders pay for ferries in the future.
BC Ferries announced the off-season promotion for all its routes Thursday, October 22. The program will reduce vehicle fares by half for select South Coast sailings on Mondays through Thursday, as well as Saturday, from November 16 to December 19.
The discount includes routes between the northern and southern Sunshine Coast, Texada Island and Comox.
“This is exactly what they need to be doing. It’s just good business sense,” said City of Powell River councillor Karen Skadsheim, also a representative on the Northern Gulf Islands Ferry Advisory Committee. “It’s the slow season, you discount your rates.”
The discount fares apply to cars, motorcycles, trucks, SUVs, vans and the first 20 feet of recreational vehicles.
Skadsheim predicted BC Ferries will see a dramatic increase in ridership during the period as people alter travel plans to take advantage of the discount sailings.
The ferry corporation is looking to launch a more flexible fare system in 2017 that would offer savings for travel on less busy sailings, Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries president and chief executive office, stated in a press release.
“BC Ferries is offering discount travel to gauge out customers’ response to the concept of saving while travelling off-peak,” stated Corrigan.
The discounted vehicle fares come after the ferry corporation experimented with reduced fares for passengers on select runs between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island in September and October.
Public response was mixed as riders who were already using the BC Ferries Experience discount card did not see a significant difference in price. Meanwhile, government critics questioned why it has taken the company so long to move to a model used almost universally throughout the transportation and tourism industries.
BC Ferries noted it did see reduced congestion at ferry terminals during peak times and increases in ridership as a result of the discount.
For more information about the fare discount and times for cheaper sailings, readers can check bcferries.com.