Guest Author - Janet Collins
One of the best kept travel secrets in Canada is the free rides for seniors on BC Ferries. The offer is good Monday through Thursday (except holidays) on most routes in the ferry system, and applies to passenger fares only. You’ll still have to pay for your car. One other caveat: You’ll have to show your BC Gold Care Card at the terminal to prove your age and that you are a resident of BC. Yes, the offer only applies to BC seniors.
If you do qualify for the free ticket, you’re in luck. It’s one of the most fun travel offers available anywhere.
My mother often takes advantage of the free fare to visit her brother on Vancouver Island. She makes the trip from Tsawwassen to Victoria on Monday and returns on Thursday, and arranges for family to pick her up and drop her off on both sides. Mom says the arrangement is great because she doesn’t have to remember where she parked her car onboard (it’s easy to get turned around when you’re walking up to the passenger deck from the three car decks below). And since she doesn’t use her car once she is at her brother’s, she doesn’t have to pay the expense of taking a car along just so she can get from her house to his house.
My father and a friend had a memorable day trip, thanks to the free fare for seniors. Both men are retired tug boat captains. One morning, they hopped aboard the ferry that did the “milk run” from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands. The men visited several islands that day (Mayne, Salt Spring, Galiano, and Pender) but didn’t get off. Rather, they spent most of their time on the sunny deck taking in the salt air. When the ferry docked at each island en route to let off and take on more passengers, Dad and his friend critiqued the skipper’s docking technique. In the end, they said they had as much fun as they had on any cruise ship, but in the friendly surroundings of a much smaller ship.
The offer also makes for an easy day trip from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island or the Sunshine Coast.
In addition to enjoying a free ride, the offer encourages seniors to travel on days when ferry traffic is not as busy as it often is the rest of the week.
If you'd rather take your car, you can still do that. But on Mon to Thurs, you only pay for the car. Your passenger fare is still free.
If you need bus transportation, Pacific Coach Lines offers service on many routes between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands. You may find mid-week fares on bus service is also reduced due to the free ferry fares. Consult the Pacific Coach Lines website (www.pacificcoach.com) for more information.
To find out more about special offers for seniors, click onto the BC Ferries website at www.bcferries.com