Best times to travel

Demand for car space on the Gabriola ferry can be notoriously difficult to predict. It varies from day-to-day and month-to-month, but the Ferry Advisory Committee is able to access the most recent traffic data available from BC Ferries to prepare charts showing the likely availability of vehicle space on any sailing.

Data is updated every six months so that predicted vehicle space for each month can based on actual traffic volumes reported the previous year.

Our current dataset uses traffic reports from May 2019 up until October 2020, though the charts for for most of the year are based on 2019 traffic, as travel since March/April 2020 has been suppressed due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. Vehicle traffic had returned almost to 2019 levels by late summer, though there may be further fluctuations over the coming months, Thanks to John Hodgkins, former Gabriola FAC Chair, who crunched the raw numbers to provide this useful information.

Note: Timing your journey (if you can) to one of the less busy sailings will mean you spend less time in the ferry line-up and leave more space on the busier ferries for people who need to travel at those times. It’s also a good idea to check the Gabriola FerryCam before you set off on your journey.

The charts use four colours to indicate the likely level of demand for each ferry.  Each chart represents the typical pattern of demand by time of day and day of the week, but doesn’t take account of special events or public holidays.

Anticipated traffic levels around public holiday weekends can be seen from the charts at the bottom of the page.

The colour coding used in the charts is as follows:

GREEN indicating there will normally be plenty of vehicle space available.

YELLOW indicating it’s likely that the ferry will be busier – possibly filling up by departure time.

RED indicating the ferry will that be close to full, with potential overloads on some days.

BLACK indicating that the ferry is routinely full, and overloads can be expected on most days.

Remember, once it’s full, it’s full – and you’ll have to wait for the next sailing.  Space for walk-on passengers is usually available on all sailings. Please bear in mind – this information is based on historic data and we can’t be held responsible if traffic on any particular sailing is heavier than predicted!

Click on the links below to show the best times to travel with a vehicle.

January                                                  July

February                                               August

March                                                    September

April                                                        October

May                                                          November

June                                                          December

Alternatively, you can download charts for the whole year here.

Changes in traffic due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Click here to get an idea of how the traffic volumes were affected by the COVID-19 travel  restictions in March/April 2020

Holiday weekends

Holiday weekends are always busy, and to help plan your journey here are charts showing the busiest sailings to and from Gabriola over each holiday period.

Traffic predictions are based on the nearest equivalent days for last year, unless exceptional weather conditions distorted last year’s travel patterns.

New Year Holiday 

BC Family Day weekend

Easter Weekend

Victoria Day Long Weekend

Canada Day Long Weekend

BC Day Long Weekend

Labour Day Long Weekend

Thanksgiving Long Weekend

Remembrance Day

Christmas Holiday