Transportation Minister says BC Ferries service cuts are 'premature'
A crew member walks on the vehicle deck of the BC Ferries' vessel Island Sky while travelling on the waters off the Sunshine Coast, from Saltery Bay to Earls Cove, B.C., on Friday, March 17, 2017. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
VICTORIA -- On Wednesday morning, while speaking on CFAX 1070, B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena voiced her concerns over BC Ferries’ plan to reduce service to some of its shorter routes.
The cuts to service come as BC Ferries says it earnings have been slashed in half since last year due to the pandemic.
The minister says that the reductions to routes are premature and that the provincial government is working with BC Ferries to assist with the situation that the pandemic has put the ferry service in.
Trevena says the cuts come at a time when the province is starting to open up after months of closure due to COVID-19 and that she would like to eventually see a return to full service.
Trevena says the ferry system is needed as it serves as the highway system for B.C.’s Gulf Islands.
“We need to make sure people across the coastal communities – whether you’re on the big island, whether you’re in the Lower Mainland, whether you’re in the smaller islands – that you have access to an affordable and reliable ferry system because people and communities and businesses need that.”
BC Ferries says the adjustments are being made to maintain minimum core service levels as outlined in the Coastal Ferry Services Contract with the province of B.C.
Last week, four members of the BC Ferries Denman Island-Hornby Island Advisory Committee resigned after they learned that the company would be reducing service between Buckley Bay and Denman Island, as well as between Denman Island and Hornby Island.
The committee members said they were blindsided by the announcement and were disappointed over what they say is a lack of public consultation over the decision.
“This cut would take out key runs in the middle of the day and Friday nights and there's almost zero savings,” former committee member Daniel Arbour told CTV News on June 8.
At the time, BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said that service reductions were necessary, as the company loses roughly $1 million per day due to the pandemic.
“We are looking at our costs throughout the system, no matter how big or small, and we are having to go down to core service levels on a number of our routes,” said Marshall on June 8.
The provincial government provides $200 million a year in funding to BC Ferries, an independent entity, in the public’s interest to provide service under contract.
The transportation minister says there is a good working relationship between the provincial government and BC Ferries and it’s important that they work together.