NDP, and fixing the ferries

Tuesday, July 4 2017

Within minutes of the announcement that the NDP would form the next government, those concerned with ferries issues were bringing up the 2017 NDP election platform.

Two key promises made: cut ferry fares on the minor routes by 15%; and restore free weekday travel for seniors.

John Hodgkins, known as the co-chair for the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee for the past couple years, voiced the opinion that making good on these promises is all very well and good, but both these would likely end up putting pressure on sailings which were already over capacity.

Anyone who uses the Gabriola ferry on a regular basis, even in the winter time, knows there are sailings which, on a regular basis, are at capacity.

So whether it’s giving Gabriola a larger ferry (there are hints from BC Ferries the 70-vehicle Quinsam will be replaced by a 100-vehicle ferry around 2023), or increasing the number of sailings, capacity on the route has to change.

Fares do need to come down. Some would argue seniors should still get to travel for free on weekdays. Others would say the overall fares need to be reduced further than 15% - make the change equitable for all users of the ferries, be they seniors, boomers, families - or those young and employable twenty-somethings our businesses would like to hire.

In the end, reducing the costs of a place on the ferry doesn’t do much if there’s already no room left on the boat.

Just one of the many quagmires this new NDP government will have to slog through.