The Province and BC Ferries have now executed an amended Coastal Ferry Services Contract for Performance Term 3, covering the 4 years to 31 March, 2016 – in which the Province has signalled its intention to identify $26 million in cost savings from island ferry service cuts, in addition to $4m of savings already agreed with BC Ferries on the major routes to and from the mainland.
A release issued on July 6 by the BC Ferry Commissioner confirmed the detail of the new contract – and the principles within which the cost savings will be identified. “Service adjustments” could happen on any ferry route – and the new contract sets a deadline of 30 June 2013 for proposals to be submitted to the Ferry Commissioner.
The contract spells out the guiding principles that are to be taken into account by the Province’s consultants in identifying where the $26 million of savings should be targeted. These principles are described in the contract as being “neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive”:
- Ferry routes that incur a significant financial loss annually, before the application of service fees
- Ferry routes that report annual capacity utilisation levels below 55%
- Ferry routes that have core service levels defined on a round-trip basis where such round trips typically report capacity utilisation levels below 20% either seasonally or annually
- Specific adjustments will take into account anticipated major capital expenditures
- Specific adjustments will take into account the complexity of ferry routes that involve multiple ports
- Specific adjustments will take into account the need to ensure basic ferry service at the route level, where applicable. Examples of basic ferry service include travel to school, work and significant community events.
Gloomy news for coastal communities throughout BC. How will it impact on Gabriola? That’s still anyone’s guess.