BC Ferry Services Inc. has released a draft copy of its public consultation report about what northern ferry service will look like after 2010, when the Queen of Prince Rupert and Queen of the North must be replaced.
The report concludes that most of the communities served by the northern routes would prefer three new ships, although there is also strong support for a four ship option. Two ships would barely be adequate to serve the routes, which are Prince Rupert-Skidegate, Prince Rupert-Port Hardy, and a “Discovery Coast” route in the summer between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.
According to the report, the communities consulted recognize that fares will have to rise to help pay for the new ships, although “there was no explicit discussion of the degree to which fares would have to increase”.
In fact, many of the communities consulted – such as Kitimat, Prince George and Williams Lake – simply want to enjoy the tourist traffic generated by the northern routes and do not rely on the ferry service themselves.
The report also says that communities recognize customers will have to pay much more for cabins and any other “extras”, that there should be much more marketing of the routes, and that there is “substantial support” for gambling and gaming on the new ferries, both as entertainment and to provide revenue.
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