North Island MLA inspects ferry system to the south

How does Washington State run its ferry system and are there efficiencies that can benefit the BC Ferry Corporation?

How does Washington State run its ferry system and are there efficiencies that can benefit the BC Ferry Corporation?

Those are questions North Island MLA Claire Trevena will be looking into during her five-day fact-finding tour of the Washington State ferry system.

“Ferry users in B.C. have faced years of steep rate hikes, and will soon face service cuts,” said Trevena, who serves as the NDP’s transportation critic. “We need to look at this problem from every angle, and that includes looking at a ferry system that has maintained affordability for users.”

Washington State operates the largest ferry system in the U.S., with 22 vessels and 20 terminals. Trevena acknowledged that the Washington State system and B.C. Ferries are different, but said a better understanding of what’s working south of the border could yield ideas to improve B.C.’s system.

“The B.C. Liberals have done little to fix the problems they created since they quasi-privatized B.C. Ferries. They won’t even sit in the legislature this fall to deal with lavish pay increases and bonuses awarded to executives when the corporation is contemplating service cuts,” said Trevena. “The government just needs to amend the Coastal Ferries Act and the practice would stop.”

Since 2003, ferry fares have increased by 45 per cent on the major routes and 85 per cent on the minor ones. What’s worse, added Trevena, is the government will be looking at cutting more sailings.

“The upcoming cuts to ferry routes will not only impact the coastal communities that rely on them, but also the economy of our province, which depends on reliable transportation lines,” said Trevena.

“The ferry system is an integral part of our infrastructure. We need to take action now to protect it.”

Trevena left Monday on the five-day trip.