Ferry cuts : First reactions

FAC Chair, John Hodgkins, gives his first reactions to today’s announcement.

So, the cuts have been announced. Very few surprises…. late sailings on almost every gulf island route will go.  For Gabriola, this means the last ferry back from town will be 9.25 pm every day – and potentially 8.20pm on Wednesdays, though that’s not clear yet (Quinsam has to be refuelled in Nanaimo every Wednesday evening and Sunday mornings, and there’s no provision for that in the Province’s plans). The first sailing (5.25am) from Gabriola will be cancelled Saturdays and Sundays.

For BC Seniors there is the double-whammy of the end of free travel on Monday to Thursday, to be replaced by a 50% discount instead.

So who will feel the impact of these cuts?  Anyone working shifts in town and finishing later than 9.15 pm will have no ferry home to Gabriola. Evening cinema and theatre trips will be out. Concerts?  Forget it, unless you have somewhere to stay in town. And if your power goes out in the evening, BC Hydro trucks will be gone by 9pm instead of 11pm as now.  Ferry crews, most of whom are Gabriolans, will also feel the impact through reduced pay.

But what about the cost to the BC Ambulance service?  Right now, the ambulance can take patients off the island right up to 11pm. In future, emergency calls after 9pm will have to be dealt with on island, with patients needing hospital treatment facing a rough boat ride or, for the most serious, helicopter evacuation.  Major cost implications for sure.

But will these cuts solve BC Ferries’ financial woes?  Very unlikely, I’d say.  Back in 2012,when the Province drew up targets for efficiency savings within BC Ferries ($15m) and service reductions ($30m) ferry traffic was predicted to continue at 2012 levels. But fares increases have continued to drive traffic away, and as a result the income to BC Ferries was $4m less than expected in 2012. All of the signs are that the decline has continued into 2013, so by the end of this year the shortfall could be $8 million for 2013.  With service cuts, things can only get worse. By the end of this 4-year Performance Term (in 2016) some predictions show the potential shortfall in revenue could be as much as $28 million – so today’s announcement of measures to save $14 million could be just the start.

John Hodgkins, Gabriola FAC Chair.

 

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8 thoughts on “Ferry cuts : First reactions

  1. Well done John; speaking of performance contracts, BC Ferries would have probably saved more by cutting the bonuses to the “Fat Cats” at the top of the pecking order……

  2. I am not at all surprised. However, I will say that I am extremely disappointed. BC Ferries is not looking out for the residents of the island(s) or potential tourists. I didn’t realize that taking care of our citizens was just based on fiscal responsibility. I hope more independent ferry services happen as a result of this. We already pay too much. Even with the experience card. It really seems like BC ferries numbers are not adding up here. Finally ill say what many people have already…if you are the CEO of a corporation that consistently underperformance, how the hell can you possibly expect to see a bonus. Ridiculous.

  3. The arrogance of the government in these issues is profound. As a province we are able to maintain highways to remote communities without a problem and we don’t ask community members to pick up the tab for the roads, so how is this any different? The sea-to-sky highway to Whistler was a massive and expensive undertaking, yet the province was happy to pay for that. Island members are already suffering from expensive fares, a newly installed (and quite infuriating )Robin’s parking lot by the ferry, now this???

    They claim to want to support island communities, but they are actively making it more and more difficult to live on the islands. Not every community member works a 9-5, and the flexibility of our current schedule with our last sailing at 1130 was one of the reasons my partner and I chose to move to the island in the first place. Gone are evenings in town with friends, or the ability to catch a movie or go out for dinner. This is so sad! Gabriola is NOT a bedroom community, we have a very diverse community, and therefore we need a ferry service that reflects that. It is NOT the responsibility of communities to pay for their service routes. FERRIES ARE A SERVICE NOT A BUSINESS! The goal of the ferries has never been, nor ever should be to make money. The government needs to drop this point, it is so silly and childish. We don’t expect highways to turn a profit, or hospitals, because they are provided by taxpayer dollars for the good of society. That is the nature of a SERVICE.

    This will also negatively affect Nanaimo businesses. Obviously, islanders and island businesses will all suffer, but so too will restaurants, bars, theatres, grocery stores in Nanaimo that are open past 9pm. No more grabbing dinner with friends and hanging out past 9pm…. Also, what about university students? Often there are important things that happen well into the evening, like ahem, sporting events, night classes, awards ceremonies, movie screenings, guest lecturers, exams (I remember having 630 to 930 university classes!) social events, and other things that contribute to a diverse educational experience. Students can kiss those goodbye. Also, we can all watch our housing prices plummet…..

    This is so, so sad. I have been living on Gabriola for two years now, and commute to Nanaimo to work 3 days a week. My shifts start at 5pm and normally end between 9 and 11. I guess its time to look for another job. The current schedule allows for SO much flexibility in lifestyle. If this new schedule is adopted I can see a drastic and negative change for Gabriola…

  4. Had they been offering us a cut in cost for this cut in service I might feel this was fair. The fact is we will just be using the service less and less as we have been over the years. Nothing solved.

  5. This is complete BS. My parents come from Ladysmith to visit, and now will be paying half price, so not as many visits. So much for going to the Port Place for a concert, or even into Nanaimo for Dinner & a movie. Ive lived here for five years and am sick of the Ferry I am in full favor of a bridge, sorry that might ruffle some feathers. Too bad, suck it up!!!!!

  6. I noted on the FB page that the proposed elimination of late-evening sailings will cost me somewhere around $1500 a year in additional expenses. That’s a low estimate, I expect.

    My main concern isn’t that, though; it is the cost to the Gabriola economy of a single professional income earner moving off the island as a result. I am thinking here of healthcare workers in particular. If just one of the RNs who live here and work at the hospital is forced off the island, the cost to our island economy would be considerable. Maybe the C of C has a calculation of how much a family spends on average on the island annually?

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