toronto island ferry

This is what the Toronto Island ferry looks like running at 50% capacity

It's been nearly two months since the city started running ferry to the Toronto Islands again, and people have been fearlessly flocking to enjoy the last few weeks of summer at Hanlan's Point Beach or the other attractions the archipelago offers.

Residents who are still feeling rightfully concerned about COVID-19 have been noticing what they feel is some pretty serious crowding on the ferries, which run from the mainland every hour or even half-hour from morning 'til late night, depending on which island you're headed to.

Apparently, it's been a persistent issue since they first reopened.

The City has been operating the boats with new health and safety procedures in place, which include mandating face coverings, reducing the normal summer schedule, making tickets available by pre-purchase only, and instructing visitors to screen themselves for virus symptoms using the provincial self-assessment tool before their trip.

Washrooms are also off-limits and the capacity for each vessel has been limited to 50 per cent of its usual number. 

But despite the reduction in the number of people on board, Torontonians are still finding the ferries to be too packed to safely social distance.

Some are also citing poor enforcement of the mask rule, alleging that many patrons have lined up, gotten on and ridden without wearing a mask or standing two metres from others. 

A few have also taken to social media to complain of the poor organization and control of the island-going crowds in general.

An employee at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal said that the ferries have indeed been limited to half volume, which is 280 people on the way to the island and less than 500 on the way back.

In normal circumstances during peak season, this number would be closer to 1,000 people, which anyone who has taken the ferry knows means basically standing shoulder-to-shoulder with very little breathing room.

Ticket sales are limited to 5,000 per day to account for these new maximums for each departure, hence the fact that guests can only purchase their tickets beforehand, and not when they arrive at the docks.

Still, it appears that day trippers are not finding the reduced numbers are small enough feel comfortable venturing to the islands, especially when a select few are disregarding the mask rule. Some have suggested on platforms like Reddit that 25 per cent capacity may be more appropriate amid the pandemic.

Ferries run to Centre Island every hour from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and holidays, to Hanlan's Point from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and to Ward's Island from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week.

The City has advised residents to expect line-ups due to the new restrictions.

Lead photo by

Daniel Knowbell

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