It’s going to take some time to turn the ship around, but at least there is recognition that B.C Ferries needs a major adjustment to how it does business.
The reality is that the quasi-private corporation simply can’t continue on its current course, and it will take co-operation between coastal communities, the provincial government, and B.C. Ferries to chart a more sustainable future for the service from which coastal residents all demand a lot.
B.C. Ferries has worked within its contract with the province to provide a service with little success over the past decade.
Now the ferry commissioner has a new mandate and more leeway in deciding how B.C. Ferries will look in the future.
Some of those ideas will come from coastal communities and it will be up to those communities to make some extremely difficult decisions.
As Transport and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom said, everything is on the table.
In other words, the status quo can’t continue and communities will have to choose between reduced service levels or paying to keep current service levels.
All other ideas, such as bridges or cable ferries, will be considered. At the same time, B.C. Ferries will have to dig deep to find $45 million in efficiencies, all in an effort to keep fare rate increases down and promote better ridership numbers.
Whatever the process determines, B.C. Ferries is eventually going to look much different than it has over its previous 52-year history.
There is a lot riding on this process. Our ferry system is part of our woven social fabric that includes our economy, tourism, food supply and how we choose to move around.
That fabric has an ever-widening hole and it’s going to take all hands on deck working together to mend it.