Drivers and foot passengers will be able to tap their debit and credit cards at B.C. Ferries ticket booths in coming weeks once new technology is introduced throughout the fleet.
This will be the first time that motorists will be able to use debit cards for fares on most B.C. Ferries routes.
The company already accepts credit cards. But having the tap function for both debit and credit cards is new. Passengers will also be able to use Apple Pay and Google Pay on smartphones, B.C. Ferries spokesperson Tessa Humphries said.
New PIN pads are being installed throughout B.C. Ferries operations this spring, with smaller terminals first to get the new technology.
“The larger terminals will happen towards the end of the month but by the end of March, we do expect to have debit ability at all the terminals,” Humphries said.
“We are aware and recognize that it [debit payment] is something that customers have been asking for quite some time and so we are excited that we can improve that experience and offer more payment options.”
B.C. Ferries anticipates ticketing will take less time for customers using the tap option, which has a $100 limit.
Credit cards — Visa, MasterCard and American Express — are already accepted for fares. Credit and debit cards can also be used on board the vessels.
B.C. Ferries starting offered a debit option on ferries in fall 2018.
Using debit for fares has not previously been available to passengers on major routes although it has been offered for northern routes which require reservations, Humphries said.
But with the busy southern routes, a debit option without a tap would have added a couple of seconds per transaction. On a long weekend or during the popular summer season, those seconds could add up to delays at terminals, she said.
“So we wanted to make sure that we did this right and that we allowed for pin pads that had the tap and pay capability before we rolled it out fleetwide,” Humphries said.
B.C. Ferries did tests that found between 75% and 80% of transactions fall under the $100 limit, she said.
The cost of adopting the new PIN pads is not being released, she said.
Debit is also an option now at certain smaller terminals and at self-service ticketing kiosks for foot passengers.
Smaller terminals already accepting debit for fare purchase are at Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay, Port Hardy, McLoughlin Bay (Bella Bella), Prince Rupert and Skidegate.
Self-service kiosks for walk-ons are at Tsawwassen, Swartz Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Departure Bay, Duke Point and Campbell River.
B.C. Ferries carries more than 22 million passengers and eight million vehicles annually. It has 37 vessels in its fleet, using 47 terminals.