Ferry Guide

Smaller ferry guide

It's that time again. The Queen of Capilano is undergoing regular maintenance between January 6 and February 20, 2020. During this time, BC Ferries will service Bowen Island with the smaller Bowen Queen. The replacement ferry is an older vessel that fits 40% fewer vehicles than our usual ferry. At capacity, the Queen of Capilano carries 100 vehicles, while the Bowen Queen can accommodate 61.

Read more from BC Ferries

If you regularly drive onto the ferry, you can expect increased delays and regular overloads. The commuter runs in the mornings and afternoons will be most affected.

Ferry marshalling flaggers will be working weekday mornings during peak commuter times, and on Saturday mornings.

"Small Ferry Survival" tips to get you through the month:

Board as a foot passenger

Boarding the ferry as a foot passenger may not be realistic for everyone, but if you can, please do.

Park on Bowen

There is free commuter parking in the lot next to the General Store, and in the larger lots accessed from Miller Road and Senior Road.

Metro Vancouver is also allowing temporary free commuter parking at the Bowfest Field lot (entrance on Dorman Road) during the refit. Be sure to check the signs on site to make sure you are parking in the right area.

There are also two pay parking lots, next to the General Store and at the USSC Marina.

You can also try the Park & Ride lot at the Satellite Fire Hall.

New! Ride your bike or scooter to the Cove and get free covered parking in the Bike Barn on the dock, immediately next to the foot passenger loading area.

Park on the mainland

During the refit, BC Ferries is offering reduced-fee parking in Horseshoe Bay. It costs $10 for 24 hours in the surface lot, or $100 for a month in the parkade.

Read more from BC Ferries

Try the water taxi

Cormorant Marine offers weekday afternoon foot passenger service between Snug Cove and Horseshoe Bay. It takes about 15 minutes and costs $10 each way, or $85 for a book of 10 tickets. Call 604-250-2630 for more info.

Horseshoe Bay departures connect with the Bowen Island Express Bus (see below), and Bowen Island Transportation Society members get priority access.

Ride the express bus

There are a few public transit options to get you around the North Shore and to downtown Vancouver, including the 257 Express bus. Check out TransLink for more info.

Locally known as “Peter’s Bus”, the Bowen Island Transportation Society (BTS) operates a shuttle service weekdays between Horseshoe Bay and Downtown Vancouver. Weekday mornings, the bus connects with the 6:20, 7:30, and 8:35 am ferry departures from Snug Cove.

Weekday afternoons, the bus picks up passengers in downtown Vancouver at 3:45, 4:55, and 6:05 pm. The bus goes directly to Horseshoe Bay, connecting with the departure of the Cormorant Marine water taxi (see above). There is a Bowen Island Bus group on Facebook where riders post status updates regularly.

Please see the BTS website for more information about purchasing tickets or membership.

Find three friends and skip the line

During the refit, on the 4:35, 5:45 and 6:50 pm weekday sailings from Horseshoe Bay, BC Ferries is offering assured loading for vehicles with four or more people. Just drive up to the booth with at least three passengers, at least 20 minutes before sailing time. After you pay your regular fare, the agent will give you a card that will admit you to the front of the marshalling line. Be sure to check the overhead digital signs to get to the correct booth for processing.

Read more from BC Ferries

Connect with others

Join the Bowen Island Commuters and Bowen LIFT Facebook groups to find or offer casual carpooling.

Medical assured loading

When a patient’s health is compromised by waiting extended periods of time in the ferry lineup, BC Ferries provides medical assured loading letters if requested by a physician or hospital. This benefit is not for those seeking X-rays, specialist visits, or routine appointments.

Contact the Caring Circle at 604- 947-9100 or info@caringcircle.ca for more info.

IMPORTANT: Do not block Grafton Road

If the Bowen Island ferry marshalling lanes are at capacity when you arrive, please leave and return after the ferry has loaded. Vehicles obstructing traffic beyond the end of the marshalling lanes will be ticketed.

Check the schedule before you go

The winter ferry schedule is in effect. Make sure you check the schedule and service notices before planning your travel. If you're driving, get in line early to avoid being overloaded.

New ferry marshalling rules in 2019

A new bylaw to regulate the ferry line-up was adopted in 2019, so there are some new “official rules” you need to know about:

  • DO NOT park in the ferry line-up unless you are waiting to board the next sailing.
  • Enter the ferry line behind the last vehicle in the line, or in the first open space closest to the ferry. Yes, this means you may “fill the gaps.”

A simple way of thinking about it is: don’t leave a gap. But if you see a gap, fill it.

  • Park within two feet (or 0.6 metres) of the vehicle in front of you. If there’s a cross-hatched area behind the next vehicle, pull right up to the edge of the cross-hatched area.
  • DO NOT stop or park any portion of your vehicle on the cross-hatched areas.
  • In the two-lane area of the ferry line, enter the shorter lane. When vehicles start loading, merge like a zipper at the point where it narrows to one lane. Don’t worry, there are signs there to help.

Bylaw officers will be monitoring the ferry line during peak sailing times, and they’ll be handing out these educational cards to help everyone understand how the new rules work.

Read Traffic and Use of Streets Amendment Bylaw No. 469, 2019 (Ferry Line-Up)

Ferry line DOs and DON’Ts

Islanders are pretty particular when it comes to the ferry, so we thought we'd let you know about both the official and unwritten rules.

Vehicles: DO

  • Line up behind the last vehicle in the line, or in the first open space closest to the ferry. Yes, this means you may “fill the gaps.”
  • In the two lane area of the ferry line, park in the shorter lane.
  • Snug Up! Park within two feet (0.6 m) of the vehicle in front of you.
  • Be in your vehicle at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure of the ferry.
  • Motorcycles: you will be loaded and unloaded before cars. Go right to the front of the line.
  • Cyclists: load and unload with foot passengers. Walk your bike across the ramp.

Vehicles: DON'T

  • Don’t park in the ferry line unless you are waiting to board the next sailing.
  • Don’t speed to get to the ferry. Speed limits are enforced by the RCMP.
  • Don’t look for a toll booth. The fare you purchased in Horseshoe Bay includes the return trip!
  • Don’t make a U-Turn on the hill to get into the ferry line.
  • Don’t stop or park beyond the “End of Ferry Line Up” sign. If the lanes are full you will not get on the ferry. Come back for the next sailing.
  • Don’t stop or park in cross-hatched areas. They are there so that ferry traffic doesn’t block entrances to stores, side streets and parking lots.

Foot passengers: DO

  • Arrive at the waiting area at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
  • Wait for ferry traffic to load or unload before crossing the street.

Foot passengers: DON'T

  • Don't walk on the road after you cross the ramp. Move to the sidewalks so that vehicles can unload.
  • Don't look for a toll booth. The fare you purchased in Horseshoe Bay includes the return trip!

Bowen Ferry Guide

The Bowen Island Ferry Guide is available in print at locations throughout Snug Cove and at Municipal Hall. You can also download a PDF of the Bowen Ferry Guide.

Last Updated on 2020-01-06 at 11:19 AM