BC on the Move Twitter Town Hall: Your Ferries Questions Answered

Continuing our series of blogs in follow up to November, 2014’s BC on the Move Twitter Townhall, we have grouped together your questions themes to better respond to them. Earlier we did one on cycling and this blog will focus on BC ferries, coastal and inland.

Over to you…

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The coastal ferry system is facing significant challenges, like other ferry systems around the world. The Province is working towards a vision where coastal communities are connected in an affordable, efficient and sustainable manner.

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We’ve said all along that there will be impacts. The changes were necessary to ensure the long-term affordability and sustainability of coastal ferries.

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A sales tax increase is not being considered at this time. Taxpayers are already contributing significant funding to support ferries.

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Maintaining the service was not sustainable given the ongoing financial losses, low utilization, and the need to replace the vessel estimated at $100 million.

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BC Ferries has implemented $4 million in service adjustments on its major routes, including Tswwassen-Duke Point, and they continue to explore opportunities for greater efficiencies.

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We’ve heard concerns about affordability of the service from ferry users up and down the coast. Service adjustments were part of a larger strategy to help address those concerns.

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The annual cost of inland ferry service is roughly $26 million, with the taxpayer contribution per vehicle carried being comparable to the coastal ferry system. Due to the nature of the inland ferry service, the system is not facing the same financial pressures as coastal ferries.

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Changes to executive compensation at BC Ferries eliminated bonuses and are now more consistent with public sector guidelines.

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Mike Corrigan, CEO of BC Ferries recently addressed this question – to view, visit: http://www.bcferries.com/about/ceo-message/Nov-19-2014.html

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BC Ferries looks at performance of schedules and has been open to modifications based on discussions with community representatives.

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The coastal ferry system is facing significant challenges, like other ferry systems around the world. Province is working towards a vision where coastal communities are connected in an affordable, efficient and sustainable manner.

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Potential changes to Nanaimo service were part of BC Ferries’ efficiency plan which is available on the BC Ferry Commissioner’s website. The Province determines service levels, BC Ferries provides the operating expertise and the BC Ferry Commissioner regulates the fares.

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A public engagement process dedicated to coastal ferries took place in 2012 and 2013. Over 5,000 participants provided significant public feedback. As well, ferries are part of the BC On the Move discussion.

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The Province has received a significant amount of public feedback from over 5,000 participants that came out during the 2012 and 2013 coastal ferries public engagements.

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Taxpayers are providing considerable funding to support coastal ferry services – more that $200 million last year.

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Both systems face similar challenges: rising operational costs, aging vessels and terminals and maintaining ridership.

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As Transport Canada is responsible for establishing minimum crewing levels, it would be up to Transport Canada to review those levels.

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There are many differences between the Washington State Ferry service and BC Ferries, yet both are facing similar challenges of rising costs, aging vessels and terminals and maintaining ridership. The Province is working to achieve its vision of coastal communities being connected in an affordable, efficient and sustainable manner.

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It is. Please check out the coastal ferries section in the BC on the Move website: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/transportationplan/regionalinfo/

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Safety is a priority for BC Ferries, and they are best suited to answer questions about its terminals and planned upgrades.

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Ferry systems have different cost structure than highways and face unique challenges. Whether inside or outside of government, the ferry system would still be facing similar challenges. Our government has been taking action to address the challenges facing coastal ferries.

 

Thank you again for your questions and participating in the BC on the Move Twitter Townhall. We hope to have the rest of the answers to our “Your Questions Answered” series posted soon.

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