Monday, March 29, 2010

BC Ferries rate changes: Will it make a difference to RVers?

If you want to take your RV to Canada--particularly if you want to go to Vancouver Island, look out. The principle ferry provider between Vancouver Island and the mainland, BC Ferries, is doing a rate change April 1. While "rate changes" are usually spelled, "rate increases" the BC Ferries change may actually help some RVers.

Under the pre-change rates, taking our venerable 29' foot fifth wheel (47 feet in combination) from Tsawwassen on the mainland to Swartz Bay, near Victoria on the island, breaks down this way:

2 adult passengers 27.00
Overheight RV 72.00 (anything over 7' considered overheight)
Per foot charge 97.20 (all "feet" beyond the initial 20 billed at $3.60 per foot)
Total passage 196.20

After May 1, the new fares break out this way:

2 adult passengers 28.00
RV (first 20') 46.75
Per foot charge 141.75 (all "feet" beyond initial 20 billed at $5.25 per foot)
Total passage 216.50

Mind you, the "overheight" charge vanishes on May 1, but the per foot over 20' rate jumps dramatically. For our fiver, we'll spend over $20 more to make the crossing.

However, if we took our truck camper--21 feet on the truck, it would work this way, under the old fares:

2 adult passengers 27.00
Overheight RV 72.00
Per foot charge 3.60
Total passage 102.60

While under the new schedule, with the "overheight" fees gone, we go this way:

2 adult passengers 28.00
RV (first 20 feet) 46.75
Per foot charge 5.25
Total passage 80.00

Bottom line: You'll need to crunch numbers, but for smaller RVs, there might actually be a cost saving under the new fare schedule. This won't help "pop up" trailers, but for the rest of the RV crowd, it'll be time to warm up the calculator. Similar increases apply to other routes.


  1. A few more hints:
    BC Ferries has an excellent fare calculator in the travel centre area of their web site.

    If your crossing with a motorhome and towed vehicle. 2 drivers required. Disconnect the toad and drive it on separately about a $50 dollar savings for the 2 trips.

    With the new fares our 35 foot MH is a little less. The car a little more.

  2. The Salt Spring Island Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) is going to try to find a fix to this. It will kill all 5 wheel and trailer traffic to the island. We do not need this a month before the start of tourist season. If you have any comments to our local fac please go to