North Coast MLA and NDP Ferries Critic Gary Coons says the announced review of the BC Coastal Ferry Act announced on May 19 doesn’t go far enough when it comes to addressing the concerns of coastal communities.
The review will look into the current price cap model and assess its impact on the affordability of future ferry fares and the sustainability of coastal communities that depend on ferries for travel and commerce . It is expected a report to government will be delivered after six months.
“We need an overhaul not a review! We don’t need a review to tell families , businesses, tourism operators and those that depend on ferries as their lifeline that fares are too high,” said Coons.
“Price elasticity has devastated communities, as fares go up ridership goes down. Fares have skyrocketed under the BC Liberals over 100 per cent on some routes and communities are in a crisis.”
As well as calling for an overhaul as opposed to a review, Coons says there must be a freeze on ferry fares until everything gets appropriately resolved.
“We do not need a bandaid approach to our marine highway. We need a to ensure we have reasonable, affordable and predictable fares as promised by this government when they rammed through the coastal ferry act,” he said.
“BC Ferries is part of our highways and needs to come back under the Highways act. It was specifically removed by this BC Liberal government, including Premier clark who was at the cabinet table!”
Coons sentiments on affordable and predictable fares is one echoed by ferry commissioner Gord Macatee, who took over the position from Martin Crilly on May 1.
“Ferry users are telling the commissioner’s office they expect a system where the fare increases are reasonable, affordable and predictable,” he said.