Midnight ferry sailings return for peak weekends

B.C. Ferries is bringing back midnight sailings this summer as the corporation ramps up for its busiest season.

Extra sailings and seasonal adjustments to schedules begin Friday.

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This year, the first midnight sailing is June 28, followed by every Friday in August. None are scheduled in July.

Last year, midnight sailings were put on in both July and August out of Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen but were “not that well utilized,” B.C. Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said Monday.

While midnight sailings are returning, the number has been shaved back and this time they are only out of Swartz Bay.

B.C. Ferries carries more than 22 million passengers and close to nine million vehicles annually. In July and August of last year, the system carried two-million-plus vehicles and close to six million passengers.

Sailings are being added starting Friday on many routes.

The most popular route in the fleet is the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen run, where four vessels will offer up to 34 sailings daily.

Passengers will see:

• 6 a.m. sailings Monday to Saturday, except statutory holidays

• Hourly sailings from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

• More late-night sailings

• Midnight departures from Swartz Bay on June 28, Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30

The route between Departure Bay in Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver is serviced by three ferries, providing up to 24 sailings per day.

• 6:25 a.m. sailings in both directions daily

• Some 11:40 p.m. sailings departing from Horseshoe Bay

The route between Duke Point in Nanaimo and Tsawwassen will have two vessels on it from 5:15 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. daily between July 26 and Sept. 2.

Some other routes will see increased sailings as well.

B.C. Ferries is encouraging passengers to ride vessels at off-peak times and is offering discounts for the early and late runs. The most popular sailings in the summer are typically on Thursday and Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings out of Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay, the corporation said.

Sunday is normally the most popular time for travellers to return from Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

More variable pricing is in the works. “In the fall, we are planning on launching our new website and that will give us the technical capability to support more fare choices,” Marshall said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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