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BC Ferries adding sailings for May long weekend, with the help of extra staff

As vehicle deck space fills up quickly, BC Ferries asks passengers to share rides or travel as foot passengers.
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The busiest sailings from Swartz Bay ferry terminal will likely be on Monday afternoon, BC Ferries says. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

BC Ferries is adding up to 110 extra sailings to handle increased traffic on the May long weekend.

The ferry company said the recent hiring of more than 500 staff will allow it to add more sailings from Thursday to May 24.

Most of the extra sailings are scheduled for the most popular routes linking Metro Vancouver with Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

On the Vancouver-Victoria route, 74 extra sailings are being added, including 6 a.m. sailings on May 19, 20, 21 and 24.

There will also be 25 extra sailings on the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route, and 11 extra sailings on the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route.

The most popular sailings are typically those leaving Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay terminals Thursday and Friday afternoon, as well as Saturday morning, while Monday afternoon is historically the most popular time to travel from Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, BC Ferries said in a statement.

During the long weekend, BC Ferries will operate about 2,400 sailings — the equivalent of 19,200 nautical miles, or the driving distance from Vancouver to Halifax and back twice. The company says 300,000 passengers and 100,000 vehicles will be transported from Thursday through Monday, while about 20,000 burgers, 5,000 bowls of ice cream and 21,000 cups of coffee will be served.

Passengers are advised to share rides or travel as foot passengers this weekend, because vehicle deck space fills up quickly. BC Ferries suggests using public transit or arranging to be dropped off at the terminal, since parking lots at the major terminals typically reach capacity on long weekends.

dkloster@timescolonist.com