People travelling for medical reasons will no longer have to pay the $18 reservation fee on BC Ferries.
The company announced on April 25 that Travel Assistance Program (TAP) users will now have the booking fee waived for travel to and from medical specialist appointments that they can’t access in their home community. Medical assured loading (MAL), when physicians state a passenger must avoid waiting at a ferry terminal, will still be available on routes that aren’t fully bookable.
The complimentary booking fees applies to five routes: Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, Powell River to Comox, Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, and Tsawwassen to Duke Point (Nanaimo).
“We understand that travelling while unwell, or to treatments and surgeries, can be stressful,” Janet Carson, vice president, marketing and customer experience, said in a press release. “Removing the booking fee is our way of helping with travel certainty while removing the financial burden when travelling to and from doctors’ offices, clinics or hospital.”
Jennifer Rice, the parliamentary secretary for rural health also commented on the importance of TAP for people who live in rural and remote communities.
In an April 19 Sechelt council meeting, the chairperson of the Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC), Diana Mumford, said BC Ferries had listened and the decision is “one item that I think will be of benefit to people in the community.”
In 2022, more than 300,000 people sailed with the TAP, and the most frequent users of TAP rely on Route 3 between Langdale and Horseshoe Bay followed by Route 17 between Comox and Powell River, said the press release. Waiving the booking fee for TAP is estimated to add up to $250,000 to $350,000 of missed revenue.
For people who do not have a credit card to make a booking, customer service can be reached at 1-888-223-3779.