It has been brought to our attention MANY times in the past week that people are upset and annoyed with the “new” policy that requires motorcyclist to be at the terminal 30 minutes before the departure time.
This is not new policy. We implemented what is call “assured loading” not “priority loading” over 25 years ago and it has always been a requirement to show up 30 minutes ahead of time.
I wanted some clarification before we spoke about this issue. I wrote BC Ferries about this matter because so much of what we were hearing, stated that this had been caused due to complaints of other motorists not thinking it was fair to allow bikes on first, and the BC Ferries had chosen to take the “car drivers side”. Below is the response that was received:
“Although it is often possible to accommodate motorcyclists using a “first on, first off” process, it is never guaranteed. At the terminal, staff are primarily concerned with dispersing vehicles in an appropriate fashion on deck, with safety and efficiency as top priorities.
Vehicle loading always requires careful attention to balancing the load, which takes place under the direction of the Chief Officer or Mate of the vessel. The mix of vehicles, in addition to volume of vehicles, can vary greatly from sailing to sailing, and procedures that work well in one situation might not apply in another. Vehicles that are first to board the ferry might not necessarily be the first to disembark. Particularly during the summer season, when we have significantly higher volumes of traffic, it can be challenging to abide by a “first on, first off” policy for motorcyclists, particularly if they arrive shortly before loading the vessel.”
What seems to have happened over the years is many motorcyclists were able to be accommodated and board even when arriving under the 30 minute window. Last year alone our Executive Director arrived at the terminal after our MLA ride, 10 minutes before the sailing and was able to load the boat.
I have been told that in some cases this will still be an available option depending on the sailing. If a boat arrives earlier than expected (even 5 minutes) and boarding has already started before you arrive at the terminal, depending on the load in line you may not be able to board. If there is room and you can be accommodated safely, you will.
It was also stressed that when motorcyclists arrive, at BC Ferries, you are not allowed to skip the line to pay for your ticket. You must wait in line like everyone else, buy your ticket and then you will have the privilege of being escorted to the front of the line.
So at the end of the day it’s quite simple, if you arrive and have paid for your ticket (are through the gates) 30 minutes prior to the sailing, you will make the boat. If you risk being under the 30 minute window then there is no guarantee.
For more information regarding the policy around motorcycle loading on BC Ferries, please visit their website: