OUR VIEW: Think of Peninsula tourism when considering B.C. Ferries’ future

BCFerries are key to tourism, transport for locals who live and work on the Saanich Peninsula

B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee came out with a list of good suggestions to make the ferry service more viable for British Columbians.

For those of us who live on Vancouver Island, the ferry is an indispensable link to the rest of the province. But the way fares have been increasing over the past near-decade – 47 per cent since 2003 – is making this link a burden. It’s sometimes cheaper – never mind faster – to grab a flight from our airport to Vancouver.

Among Macatee’s suggestions is the idea of a range of fares where users could pay more for peak-time travelling and less for off-peak sailings. This, along with free reservations, could help the Crown corporation better plan and possibly even out its ridership. Those who want the convenience of peak-time travel will pay more for it, but those who are flexible with travel times will get a break at the toll booth.

With Swartz Bay located on the tip of the Peninsula, the ferry service is a big player in our economy. Hundreds of thousands of ferry riders pass through the Peninsula each year to get to the terminal, making B.C. Ferries a key ingredient in our economy, especially when it comes to tourism and services like gas stations and food providers.

The service needs to be viable for both locals and tourists. We’d like to see the range of fares come into place – as long as the top of the range isn’t much higher than we’re already paying. Free reservations make ferry travel convenient for locals, while the suggestion to cap fares at the rate of inflation will make prices easier to digest for tourists who visit the Peninsula on their way to and from the terminal.

The ferry service’s costs diminished when former CEO David Hahn stepped down, terminating his million-dollar compensation package. Let’s see those cost-saving measures continue with Macatee’s suggestions being implemented as soon as possible.

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