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Smooth sailing Friday morning for beleaguered BC Ferries

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It was strangely quiet at Swartz Bay terminal Friday morning, even though the B.C. Day long weekend is expected to be the busiest weekend of the year for BC Ferries, with a projected 580,000 passengers expected to travel on vessels between Thursday and Tuesday.

There were no sailing waits at Swartz Bay throughout the morning Friday.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall attributed the smooth sailing there to a few factors, including the addition of hourly sailings out of Swartz Bay, the return of the Coastal Celebration – giving it a full fleet – and a variable pricing program.

“Discounting off-peak times, that’s a win-win. It gives customers a discount and it draws traffic away from the peak times,” said Marshall Friday.

Friday's seeming success was in stark contrast to this summer's troubled times, which have been dominated by mechanical breakdowns, labour shortages and computer glitches – all leading to massive waits.

That prompted a charm offensive at the Swartz Bay terminal on Friday, complete with drawing tents for kids and musicians serenading the playground.

BC Ferries admits Friday is the calm before the storm. Monday is typically when Swart Bay and Departure Bay get slammed with travellers lining up to return to the mainland.

Meanwhile, with vacationers eager to get out of town for the weekend, traffic was backed up heading to the Malahat Highway Friday morning. And at Victoria's airport, where the B.C. Day long weekend is traditionally also the busiest time of the year, one parking lot was completely full by noon.  

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