MIEDS makes submission to ferry consultation process

  • Dec. 19, 2012 4:00 p.m.

The Misty Isles Economic Development Society is recommending that BC Ferries run the service as a unified system, rather than route-by-route, in a submission to the BC Coastal Ferries consultation and engagement process. The eight-page submission, prepared by economic development officer Heather Adel, is available on the MIEDS website. MIEDS recommends that BC Ferries make several changes in order to save $26 million over the next four years, as the provincial government has mandated. The society points out that fares have risen at rates far exceeding the cost of living in the past decade, and that the previous restriction on cross-subsidization (using money made on the major routes to subsidize the costs of the smaller routes) means that northern and minor route customers have shouldered a disproportionate share of the increases. On the northern routes, fares have increased by 78 percent since 2003, the report says. Increases were even higher on the minor routes, at 80 percent. According to the MIEDS analysis of the situation, BC Ferries could look to Washington State and Alaska, which both consider their ferry systems as part of the highway infrastructure and operate the systems as a whole, not route-by-route. Both states also fund capital expenditures separately. If BC Ferries implemented this kind of model, it could reduce the subsidies from government and reduce user fees, the MIEDS report says. MIEDS also recommends other changes like enhanced on-board services like workout facilities and wi-fi, and a better reservation and ticketing system. Combined with lower fares, these could all increase demand for BC Ferries services. Islanders who have opinions about the future of the ferry system and how BC Ferries can make $26 million worth of savings have until Friday Dec. 21 to submit their ideas to the BC Coastal Ferries Consultation and Engagement process. Details are available at coastalferriesengagement.ca

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