Service changes — read service reductions and fare increases — are coming to B.C. Ferries once the election is over. Passenger volume and revenue is not increasing as fast as operating costs and ageing infrastructure needs to be addressed.
Cost savings everyone agrees are necessary. But the real question is: will these come solely from service reductions, or will a significant proportion come from better operating practices, capital investment, reduced labour costs and, most importantly, from a clearly mandated mission of what BCF is to be?
In 21 years of living on a Gulf Island and then Vancouver Island, the notion that all that BCF needs is to be acknowledged as “part of the highway system to reduce fares and to be removed from Government interference” has been an endlessly repeated refrain.
Governments that have seen taxpayer subsidies triple to $180 million in my 21 years are not going to be invisible. Neither Liberals nor NDP are going to increase that subsidy by reducing fares or making BCF part of the highway system.
So what we have to ask for to begin with is a realistic mission and a manageable dependable subsidy level that will give BCF the ability to present options to its travelling public to choose from.