Coastal ferry traffic is on the decline as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said they’ve seen passengers drop by “at least” 40 percent.

“Our traffic is down significantly across the fleet,” Marshall said. “Obviously people are heeding the warning that you should stay at home if you can. We have reduced our extra service that we had scheduled throughout the month of April that would have been in part due to the Easter long weekend. We reduced that on a number of routes due to the situation that we are seeing with the COVID-19 virus.”

Moving forward, Marshall said the company is doing a number of things to ensure the safety of passengers.

“We are an essential service and we do understand that some people do need to continue to travel with BC Ferries, so we have instituted a number of measures to keep ferry travel healthy,” she said.

They include:

  • Closing all food services,
  • Suspending baggage handling,
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection,
  • Passengers are now allowed to stay in their vehicles in enclosed car decks,
  • Walk-on passengers having additional space to encourage social distancing, and
  • Asking customers to use either debit or credit cards, whenever possible.

Marshall said staff are also being protected.

“We are using stanchions and different dividing kinds of devices to help our employees keep that social distancing away from customers,” she said.

Marshall added that employees who are feeling unwell are being urged to stay home.

“We want to thank our staff who are coming to work,” she said. “They are providing an essential service for British Columbia. They are moving goods back and forth which are required in all of the communities that we serve.”