I attended the rally against ferry service cuts and price increases held in Qualicum Beach last Saturday. I was very pleased at the solidarity shown by local government representatives around the issue. I wish them well on their further investigation of this issue.
The overwhelming message from our local politicians was the ferry service is part of the B.C. highway system. Just as the highway ministry clears snow slides on our mountain passes, provides free ferry service to cross Kootenay Lake and all other water crossings in the Interior, not to mention the Lower Mainland transit authority, the ministry should operate BC Ferries. (It’s interesting to note that the ministry maps all show Island ferry links displaying the symbol and number for the highways they connect.)
Even more telling was the criticism of the corporation’s business plan. Anybody who has worked in a business that serves the public knows that the Corporation’s model doesn’t work.
Suppose a retail business was losing money: would the owner be so silly as to shorten his hours and raise his prices? I think not, but the over-bloated (one manager for every six workers) management of the ferry corporation is doing just that. But guess who pays for that decision: citizens who need to travel for work, play or health; businesses who depend on tourism; anyone who needs to travel: that’s all of us folks and we make up a large percentage of the province’s population.
Since the B.C. Liberals are so all-fired keen on contracting services out, maybe we should contract Washington State Ferries to supply us. They seem to do a much better job of it.