Heavy-vehicle traffic, potential sailing cancellations amid busy weekend at Swartz Bay terminal: BC Ferries

Amid a busy weekend for travel, BC Ferries is advising customers traveling from Swartz Bay to arrive with “ample time” due to heavy traffic conditions outside the terminal.

The company took to Twitter around midday on Saturday and warned of heavy traffic at the terminal near Sidney, while noting that its paid parking lots had reached capacity.

“If you are traveling as a foot passenger, please consider taxi service, public transportation, the BC Ferries Connector bus or being dropped off at the terminal,” BC Ferries said in a travel advisory.

It’s a similar story in Nanaimo, as paid parking at the Departure Bay terminal also reached capacity, according to the company.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island departed 54 minutes late for the 11 a.m. departure from Swartz Bay “due to the time required to load and unload the vessel given today’s heavy traffic volume,” BC said. Ferries.

The vehicle backup has been underway since early Saturday morning, with video footage sent to CHEK News showing a traffic jam along the Patricia Bay Highway at 8:40 a.m.

Meanwhile, several ferry crossings between Swartz Bay, Otter Bay and Village Bay are also facing potential cancellation today (August 20) due to a staff shortage on the Queen of Cumberland.

As BC Ferries crew teams scramble to find replacement personnel, as of 10:40 a.m. the following sailings are reported to be at risk of being cancelled:

  • 2:40 p.m. from Swartz Bay
  • 3:35 PM from Otter Bay
  • 4:10 p.m. departure from Village Bay
  • 5:25 p.m. from Swartz Bay
  • 6:30 p.m. departure from Village Bay
  • 7:05 p.m., depart Otter Bay
  • 8:05 p.m. departing from Swartz Bay
  • 8:55 PM from Otter Bay
  • 9:30 p.m. departure from Village Bay

BC Ferries says it requires specific levels of personnel on board a ship to ensure passenger safety while adhering to Transport Canada regulations. “…if crossings are affected, we will notify customers via a service notice as soon as the information is confirmed,” he said.

Staffing issues also led to Saturday afternoon and evening Sailing cancellations on the Salish Haronaffecting customers in Tsawwassen, Sturdies Bay, Village Bay, Otter Bay and Long Harbour.

Ahead of the weekend, BC Ferries said it was preparing for a busy Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on a handful of routes between Vancouver Island, the mainland and the Sunshine Coast.

He urged customers traveling on routes between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay, Tsawwassen), Nanaimo (Duke Point), Victoria (Swartz Bay) and the Sunshine Coast (Langdale) to book ahead.

“If you plan to travel without a reservation, arrive at the terminal as soon as possible and be prepared for navigational expectations and hot weather,” the company said in a notice Wednesday.

Status list of all BC Ferries routes available here.

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