Each year, BC Ferries is required to commission an independent survey of customer satisfaction on a sample of 8 ferry routes, including Route 19 to and from Gabriola. The public report, which will form part of the corporation’s annual report to the BC Ferry Commissioner, was released this week and is published in full on the BC Ferries website.
The selection of Route 19 as one of four minor routes surveyed provides an eye-opening insight to the Ferry Commissioner and government of just how seriously the April 2014 service cuts have impacted on ferry users. We were not the only route to suffer cuts of course, but Route 19 stands out among the other seven routes included in the survey as the only one to have experienced a material cut in service – and the effect of those cuts is highlighted in a series of observations by the researchers, who found that satisfaction among gulf islanders had reached an all-time low. Mustel’s report says:
- Overall satisfaction levels have declined in many passenger and demographic segments with frequent travellers and gulf island residents more critical than others
- Satisfaction with terminal arrangements also dipped in most passenger and demographic segments. Most notable is [the reduced satisfaction] registered by business passengers and gulf island residents
- A total of 86% of passengers (4.07 on the 5-point scale) were satisfied with their overall experience on board, lower than the 89% recorded last year. The rating dropped slightly on Routes 5/9, but significantly on Route 19 (4.07 to 3.71).
- Satisfaction with most aspects of sailing schedules dropped in 2014, as well as the rating for on-time departures on Route 19 which has declined from 3.89 to 2.69 this measure.
- The overall satisfaction scores have been stable by route except levels have weakened on Route 19 (3.46 average score versus 4.13 in 2013)
It is rare for so many negative trends to be recorded on any individual route – but maybe Route 19 actually typifies the impact that serious ferry cuts have on ferry-dependent communities. In previous years’ surveys, Gabriolans have been amongst the most satisfied with their ferry schedule, its reliability and the ability to get on their chosen ferry. Now, in 2014, we became the least satisfied. A message we hope the government, the Ferry Commissioner and BC Ferries will take very seriously.