B.C. Ferries launches app for reservations, schedules and service alerts

The Spirit of British Columbia sails between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. (Kathryn Marlow/CBC - image credit)
The Spirit of British Columbia sails between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. (Kathryn Marlow/CBC - image credit)

B.C. Ferries has launched its first app, which it says travellers can use to check schedules and current conditions, make reservations, and get alerts about service changes.

Spokesperson Deborah Marshall suggested it's a great way for customers to plan ahead for their spring break travel.

"Customers can make bookings on their phone now, so it's very convenient," said Marshall.

Diana Mumford helped test the app for B.C. Ferries.

She heads the ferry advisory committee for the Sunshine Coast and says the app has the potential to make ferry travel easier.

"It is definitely an improvement over the website," said Mumford.

"We've all been begging for the website to be improved for a long period of time, basically since it was launched."

She said it takes a lot of navigation to get to specific schedules or current conditions on the website — but on the app, she can set up preferences so she can go straight to the information on the route she uses most.

The app still relies on the same information as the website — meaning service notices about delays sometimes come out after the delay has actually happened, and Mumford said current conditions for her route, Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, aren't always accurate.

Mumford also said the app won't be as helpful in ferry communities where internet service is spotty.

B.C. Ferries
B.C. Ferries

B.C. Ferries requires users to create accounts to make bookings and set preferences on the app.

Victoria-based Faisal Sethi, founder of an app-based game company called Frosty Pop, said the account requirement makes it less user-friendly for occasional ferry users like him.

He said it would be better to have an option for guest checkout.

"To be able to book without an account is a big plus for me and for, I think, a lot of users that don't typically travel frequently."

The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.

B.C. Ferries says it will update the app in response to customer feedback.