Ferries “adrift at sea”: MLA Coons

  • Aug. 29, 2011 3:00 p.m.

BC Ferries’ announcement last week that it was considering service cuts due to declining numbers of passengers is providing more ammunition for North Coast MLA Gary Coons’ barrage of criticism for the way the provincial government has handled the ferry service. Mr. Coons said it has become overwhelmingly obvious that the Liberals’ efforts to turn BC Ferries into a private cruise line is not good for ordinary citizens. “Skyrocketing fares, a serious drop in ridership, sending ship-building jobs to Germany, and wasteful spending on executive salaries, a tourism centre and expensive ads paint a picture of a ship adrift at sea,” Mr. Coon said. “What do we want from ferries… an affordable, essential service and an extension of our highways, or a tourism product?” BC Ferries announced last week that it will ask the Liberal government for permission to cut service on the major routes. The cuts are part of BC Ferries’ attempt to stay afloat amidst huge increases to fares and significant drops in traffic since the Liberals semi-privatized ferries in 2003. Mr. Coons said the Liberal transportation Minister, Blair Lekstrom, lives in a remote northern community where highways are maintained by government, yet he has failed to step in and advocate on behalf of ferry-dependent communities. “The Liberals thought they could buy time until after the next provincial election when the ferry commissioner launched a review of the ferry system, but it doesn’t take a review to see the system is broken and needs a new direction now,” Mr. Coons said. “We need to treat ferries as an extension of our highway system, as it was previously.”

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