FAC Chairs tell government : cut losses on major routes before attacking lifeline routes to the islands

NEWS RELEASE – from the Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC)

FERRY CUTS: THE SWEET SPOT

5 DECEMBER 2013 – While the Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs have not yet succeeded in figuring out how the provincial government’s ferry cuts will safeguard the coastal ferry system, they do think they’ve found the sweet spot for the least painful possible service cuts.

“If the government’s goal is to find the biggest savings for the smallest traffic loss and least hardship, then we suggest it looks harder at the major routes, and at the big money-losing route hiding behind the profit-makers,” says Brian Hollingshead of the Southern Gulf Islands.

The three major routes (from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island) are the giants of the system. Yet they’re facing the slimmest of cuts compared to the 22 smaller routes.

 

Operating costs

Percentage of total operating costs

Cuts target

Cuts as a percentage of operating costs

System

$ 571 million

100 %

$18.9 million

3.3 %

3 Major   routes

466 million

82 %

4.9 million

1.1 %

22 Smaller routes

103 million

18 %

14.0 million

13.6 %

Operating costs: BCF report to the BC Ferry Commission

The three major routes are considered the ferry system’s profit makers. Yet one of those routes is one of the system’s biggest money losers.

The Tsawwassen-Duke Point route has been losing money for at least ten years. In each of the last five years it has lost somewhere between $24 million to $30 million a year.

The route has an average capacity utilization of 48%. It could stand to lose one of its four shifts on weekdays for ten months a year and still have room for all its traffic. A combination of consultation and a revised reservation system could produce a schedule to accommodate the freight and commercial carriers who use the route heavily.

These cuts to Tsawwassen-Duke Point alone would save $9.6 million. The two profit-making major routes also could be trimmed more. With their massive scale, they can absorb cuts without the drastic impacts and community hardship that will be felt on the smaller routes

The government could use these savings from the major routes to buy time: to develop a  business case for cuts to the smaller routes; to conduct social and economic impact assessments on the communities for which they’re lifeline transportation; and to reverse any cuts that don’t make sense.

While the government considers this suggestion, the FACC will continue to ask them for the detailed information they have used to develop the current cuts plan.

The FACC also continue to ask Transportation Minister Todd Stone to explain to ferry-dependent communities how the current cuts plan will fix the current barrier of the high fares, and how it will advance the government’s goals for jobs and the economy.

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One thought on “FAC Chairs tell government : cut losses on major routes before attacking lifeline routes to the islands

  1. Maintaining a large number of passengers is as econonmically sound as cutting services. In view of that I suggest cutting 2 triips by extending the time between trips by a few minutes to allow for a Gabriola residents to attend evening events in Nanaimo. To initiate seniors fares without giving late evening service is really a disservice which will probably result in ill will that will mean they will s=use the ferry as little as possible. I am one of those seniors,
    Yours truly, Mary Rose

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