Response to FAC letter in Feb. 6 Sounder

Tuesday, February 13 2018

In response to the letter from Dave Neads in last week’s Sounder, first and foremost, the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) has no intention of recommending the elimination of the current senior’s discounts or the upcoming senior’s free ferry travel. We have only suggested that changing it from the current Monday-through-Thursday to Friday-through-Monday might help to alleviate some of the serious mid-week overloads on this route, instead of making them worse. The FAC proposal would also offer an equal number of discounted days, but by spreading them between weekdays and weekends, it would provide additional opportunities for seniors who need to travel on those days specifically in order to see family, etc. We have had discussions with BC Ferries about giving the FACs the ability to make changes to the timing of the seniors’ incentives to help reduce overloads, but we would not recommend the implementation of any such change without first consulting with the community.

Second, of course the FAC has considered a wide range of options for improving the situation, and we have discussed them at length with BC Ferries. We have been asking for time-of-day discounts for several years now, but BC Ferries is not ready to go there. What’s more, with no ticketing on the Gabriola side—where the problem is most severe—time of day fare incentives might not actually help that much. 

The FAC supports GERTIE and is very much in favour of car-pooling initiatives that would reduce vehicle numbers on the ferry, and while that is not within our mandate, we would welcome and support any efforts by the community to initiate car-pooling.

The FAC welcomes community members at our meetings with BC Ferries because we want to hear your views and we want them to know that Gabriolans care about the ferry service. The next meeting will likely be in late spring. We would be especially delighted to have Mr. Neads attend so that he can get a better idea of what the FAC does and be reassured that our objective is not to pillory seniors (or any other segment of the population)! 

~ Steven Earle on behalf of the Gabriola FAC