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Ferry sailings added for Thanksgiving weekend

On the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route there will be 66 extra sailings, including 6 a.m. departures from Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen.
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The Spirit of Vancouver Island loads at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. The system is expected to handle 420,000 passengers and 160,000 vehicles from Thursday through Tuesday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

B.C. Ferries is adding 85 extra sailings to accommodate an anticipated heavy passenger load during the Thanksgiving long weekend.

The system is expected to handle 420,000 passengers and 160,000 vehicles from Thursday through Tuesday.

Foot passengers can make free reservations on routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island and for the Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Islands route, since Thanksgiving weekend is normally the most popular for walk-on passengers.

On the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route — the most popular in the fleet — there will be 66 extra sailings, including 6 a.m. departures from Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen on Oct. 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11.

The Departure Bay in Nanaimo-Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver route will have an extra 12 sailings, while the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale will offer seven more sailings.

Extra service is being added for Gulf Island customers, B.C. Ferries said. A modified sailing schedule comes into effect for Oct. 10 to deal with heavy traffic. Passengers from Tsawwassen to the Gulf Islands can also catch a ferry from Swartz Bay to the islands.

B.C. Ferries’ tips for travelling this weekend:

• Book early to secure a spot at bcferries.com. Customers with advance bookings do not experience sailing waits, even when multiple waits are reported.

• Motorists without an advance booking will likely experience waits at peak times. The best option to avoid sailing waits is to travel during less-busy times, typically mid-week days and early-morning or late-evening sailings.

• Ride-share if possible. Customers are encouraged to carpool or travel as foot passengers. Vehicle deck space fills up quickly.

• Take public transit to and from major terminals. For schedule information, visit TransLink or B.C. Transit’s websites.

• If possible, choose public transit or arrange to be dropped off at the terminal to avoid traffic congestion, since parking lots at the major terminals fill up quickly on long weekends. Parking lot status by terminal is provided via Twitter @BCFerries and at bcferries.com.

• Arrive early. Customers with reservations should arrive at the terminal 45 to 60 minutes before their scheduled departure. Walk-on passengers should arrive 45 minutes before their sailing.

• If you have an important appointment or connection with another ferry or flight, travel on an earlier ferry.

• Check current conditions, service notices and travel advisories on B.C. Ferries’ website before heading to the terminal and review the routes-at-a-glance page.

For full schedule information, travel tips, current conditions and vehicle and walk-on passenger bookings, go to bcferries.com/travel-boarding/travel-tips.

For the most up-to-date travel information, follow @BCFerries on Twitter.

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