Letters to the Editor

Citizens keep B.C. Ferries afloat

To the Editor,

Re: Ferry fares set to increase, Oct. 4.

B.C. Ferries is again raising fares, in spite of a declining user group – not the usual business decision.

The ferry system is not your usual business, because B.C. Ferries is obliged to cover major losing runs, such as the Gulf Islands.

According to the figures reported in the annual report of the B.C. Ferries Commissioner, the annual revenues for 12 months to March 31, 2012 are $51.4 million for the Islands Trust area south of Cortes Island.

The annual expenses B.C. Ferries has to absorb are $76.2 million, thus showing a loss/subsidy of approximately $24 million.

Clearly this is not sustainable.

Referring to the Gabriola Isand ferry service only, the revenues are $5.7 million, with expenses of $7.4 million and a subsidy of $1.7 million annually. The revenue is more than adequate to pay for a 100-year bridge system, thus releasing B.C. Ferries from their unsustainable expense.

If the subsidy is shared by all inhabitants of an island, the following examples are illustrative of the problem:

The Gabriola Island loss/subsidy, shared equally by the 5,000 or so inhabitants, works out to approximately $1,134 per person. Another example is Thetis Island, with approximately 350 inhabitants and a loss/subsidy of $2.7 million, works out at $7,700 per person.

The Islands Trust Act is for preserving and protecting the islands for the province as a whole, not just the inhabitants. What does the rest of the province think of paying for such an unsustainable ferry system in the present economic climate, when for Gabriola at least, the ferry can be replaced by a far more sustainable bridge system?

Jeremy Baker

Gabriola Island

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