BC Ferries

Coastal discouragement

Before being elected government in 2001, BC Liberals promised to appoint an independent inquiry into the “mismanagement of BC Ferries.” That promise, like many others made by Gordon Campbell, fell by the wayside. The primary reason was that the claim of mismanagement was myth not reality. The corporation had been less than perfect but not as portrayed by political theatre playing in British Columbia around the turn of the century.

The NDP government’s commitment to aluminum ferry construction might have worked had it been executed more skillfully. British Columbia had a successful record of large ferry construction and the government hoped to advance specialization in a new class of vessel that, in the day, seemed to offer real advantages. (The U.S. Navy currently has a $37 billion aluminum fast-ship building program.)

Whether or not unforeseen problems that emerged could have been resolved will never be known. Failure of the program became too important to Liberal strategists who still use it after a dozen years to paint NDP as foolish spendthrifts, incapable of providing fiscal competence that is second nature to supporters of private enterprise.

However, the record demonstrates that under its current structure, BC Ferries has been a debacle.  The government’s termination of David Hahn as CEO will not resolve the problems, those result from an inept board and confused political vision.

This item from the 2004 Annual Report show what citizens of the province were told to expect when the marine transportation service was restructured:

“On April 2, 2003, BC Ferries became an independent company. On that day, a 43-year-old organization was given a new beginning. We now have a clear vision to become a world-class marine transportation system, one that is both highly customer-focused and financially viable. During our first year, we have made big strides towards our vision. We’ve built on our strengths and we’ve created new business opportunities. And we’re excited about the future…”

The ferry corporation’s most recent fiscal year ended March 31. Vehicle traffic was down 3.5% and the number of passengers down almost as much. Despite declining traffic, BC Ferries executives have moved into spacious new offices in Victoria. That a company with a shrinking commitment to service needed fancy new head office digs is not a subject that MSM journalists have bothered to explore, which is interesting considering the coverage they gave to the PacifiCats in pre-Liberal days.

Northern Insights has many articles on BC Ferries and you can find them HERE. A few graphs illustrate the unhappy situation of BC Ferries.

Categories: BC Ferries

7 replies »

  1. On Friday's Bill Boring show, with the two stooges, the ferry saga boiled down to this, wicked and nasty coastal islanders wanted BC Ferries to operate empty ferries to their islands more than once a day.

    The pure bull shit (sorry but I call a spade a spade) from this trio of Liberal operatives is astounding.

    If they were true reporters, they would have listed what sailings were running empty and why. But no, not this reporters for hire lot, who use rhetoric and myth as facts.

    No wonder 'NW is gong in the tank, there is no news on 'NW, just regurgitated Liberal BS.

    Jack Webster must be spinning in his grave!


  2. The island ferries used to have way more cars on them than they do now. Skyrocketing prices have forced the 99% to park their vehicle and walk on and get in another vehicle on the other side. We are a case in point and spent the last 4 months working on Vanc Island. Ten years ago, I would have taken the vehicle across and back every day. Parking lots and side streets are clogged with parked cars, proving many others are now leaving the cars behind.
    They have reduced tourist trade as well, which affects the overall health of the local economies, which affects less taxes streaming into government coffers. Boy those Liberals really know how to screw up the economy and the running of this province.
    It is disturbing to see the talking points beginning to be thrown out there to discredit smaller ferry routes and therefore creating a reason to cut services. Just cut the damn rates already, then you will see travellers start to use the system again. It is really quite simple but doesn't fit in with the current corporate robber baron mentality running rampant all over the world.


  3. Good point. I heard Liberal commentators on radio recently moaning about service being too good on the Gulf Islands. They specifically thought Salt Spring Island service was screwed up with three terminals. Truth is that small ferries operating on short routes makes operating sense in particular circumstances. Closing the Crofton run, forcing traffic bound for Nanaimo and north to route through Schwartz Bay, Saanich and Victoria would be a mistake. Bigger terminals and larger ferries do not provide the appropriate solution for everything.


  4. A friend of mine who works for BC ferries told me that the Crofton-Vesuvius Bay ferry is used for dangerous cargo – no passenger allowed, several times a day on some days, due to the large population on Saltspring demanding such service.

    Thus it would be correct in saying that the ferry runs empty of passengers, because of Transport Canada rules prohibit passengers on board ferries carrying propane, gasoline or other dangerous cargo's.

    Why is it little me can get answers for passenger less ferries and not Palmer Baldry and Good – the three of them are too damned lazy to get the real story and shame on them!


  5. Additionally, the run is short and the terminals on both sides very modest. The servicing vessel was purchased used by BCF more than 40 years ago for $350,000. Amazing is it not that Bill Good, Vaughn Palmer and friends find fault with this tiny element of BC Ferries operation but ignore the fact that BCF gave the Jawl family a long term lease and a 2nd mortgage of $25 million so the developers could build a $100 million property to house the new BCF head office. That kind of pre-construction deal was a sweetheart arrangement available only to BC Liberal friends.


  6. One problem we Gulf Islanders have is that everyone 'out there' thinks that the islands are full of rich people so they should not subsidize ferry travel for them. Granted, there is a population of very wealthy individuals, many of whom own getaway properties, but that is not a reason to cut service. There is also a population of families with children, young adults on their own and seniors. Should we throw them all under the bus because we have ''rich' living here? If you don't want to subsidize rich people, then raise taxes on them. If you felt they paid their fair share, then the need to punish everyone due to the sake of a few would go away.


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