BC Ferries to ban passengers from staying on closed vehicle decks during sailings starting in October

Click to play video: 'Major changes in the works for B.C. Ferries passengers'
Major changes in the works for B.C. Ferries passengers
WATCH: B.C. Ferries has announced major changes, including no passengers on the car decks and no smoking anywhere. Neetu Garcha reports – Aug 22, 2017

BC Ferries says passengers will no longer be able to stay on closed vehicle decks while the ferry is in motion.

The ban, which goes into effect on Oct. 11, would apply to the fully-enclosed lower decks of many vessels including those on the heavily travelled route between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay.

BC Ferries said the change is being made to comply with Transport Canada regulations aimed at curbing passenger access to closed car decks.

WATCH: Proposal to ban passengers from BC Ferries lower car decks

Click to play video: 'Proposal to ban passengers from BC Ferries car decks'
Proposal to ban passengers from BC Ferries car decks

Passengers parked in open-air upper car decks are not affected by the change.

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BC Ferries said customers with special circumstances may ask at the ticket booth to be placed on the upper car deck and they will do their best to accommodate passengers with unique challenges.

“As long as the circumstances are compelling, our staff will have certain discretion to try and get those people into the terminal that will have them parked on the upper car deck,” Darren Johnston of BC Ferries said.

They also said they will initially take a soft approach to enforcing the new rules.

The new policy applies to the lower vehicle decks on the following vessels, which generally run on the Tsawwassen–Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen–Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay–Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay– Langdale, Powell River–Comox, Tsawwassen–Southern Gulf Islands, Port Hardy–Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert–Haida Gwaii routes:

· Spirit of British Columbia
· Spirit of Vancouver Island
· Coastal Renaissance
· Coastal Inspiration
· Coastal Celebration
· Queen of Alberni
· Queen of Coquitlam
· Queen of Cowichan
· Queen of New Westminster
· Queen of Oak Bay
· Queen of Surrey
· Queen of Nanaimo
· Salish Orca
· Salish Eagle
· Salish Raven
· Northern Expedition
· Northern Adventure

The policy also applies to the vessel that will operate the Port Hardy–Bella Coola route.

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BC Ferries defines a closed vehicle deck as a space that is closed at both ends with limited side openings.

BC Ferries also confirmed that it will be implementing a total smoking ban on all ferries as of Jan. 22, 2018.

“The reason for this is to provide our customers and employees with a smoke-free environment for health and wellness purposes,” Johnston said.

– With files from Matt Lee and Ben Dooley

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