Revamped plans for the running of BC Ferries is missing the point completely, says MLA Scott Fraser.
The NDP representative for the Alberni-Pacific Rim constituency said the injection of $79.5 million into the partly privatized corporation will do little to address the core problems with the ferry service.
“The Liberals brought in the Coastal Ferries Act, which quasi-privatized the institution with a deeply flawed model,” Fraser said. “The commissioner’s report talked about reaching and exceeding the tipping point of affordability. They have over-priced the product and made it cost-prohibitive to travel to Vancouver Island or the other islands and the public interest isn’t met.”
Fraser said the corporation’s focus on increasing prices to address falling revenues is misguided.
“Every time they need money they increase the price and they lose more ridership,” he said. “What this bill does is continue to raise the cost of ferries — at double the rate of inflation from the looks of it.”
At the same time, he said, British Columbians are going to lose services as the corporation finds efficiencies and cuts back sailings.
“We’ll be paying more and getting less,” Fraser said. “That’s the solution they have, and paying more will lose more ridership.”
What is needed, he said, is a full review of the ferry system, with the aim of returning it to being considered a part of the provincial highway system.
“This is a transportation system,” he said. “There is a cost to all roads, bridges and transportation in general and ferries are a form of transportation and there’s a cost to it. We need a complete review of BC Ferries, with the mind of bringing it back to being part of the highways system and treating it as such. It’s an essential transportation route, like a highway.”