BC Ferries

New ferry will have capacity 10x average passenger count

Bloated management of BC Ferries is addicted to empire-building like BC Hydro.

Except for its Denman Island cable ferry, the company has chosen not to build boats for specific needs of its minor runs. The result is oversized and overstaffed boats running substantially below capacity. That causes the ferry corporation to reduce trip frequency, which serves residents badly almost every day of the year.

texada ferry 250A ferry under construction in Romania will serve the short route between Powell River and Texada Island, replacing the 60-year-old North Island Princess. The $43 million vessel is designed to carry about 50 cars and 300 passengers.

atrevida 200That capital investment amounts to more than $40,000 for each of approximately 1,100 residents of Texada Island, an area where census records show the same population in 2016 as in 2001. In fact, the resident count is unchanged from the sixties when M.V. Atrevida, a 5-car 40-passenger ferry, shuttled back and forth on the same route.

According to BC Ferries’ traffic records, the Texada route averaged about 25 travelers per trip in fiscal year 2018. That means the new ferry will carry an average that is fewer than 10% of passenger capacity.

A boat that can transport 15 cars and 60 passengers in these sheltered waters would be appropriate for the Texada Island route. Its capital cost would be much less, even if built in North America, and operating costs would substantially lower.

Categories: BC Ferries

9 replies »

  1. Someone should ask BC Ferries how come they aren’t following Norway’s lead and start to build electric ferry’s? They have electric driven V/L’s that have up to a 30 minute crossing time. It doesn’t take long to Google the subject and in particular how they solved the problem of in-rush-current when the ships are “plugged in”. Oh, and the surprising thing; we have a company based in Richmond that could supply the drive system for those ships; they are already doing it for various shipping/tug companies in Europe and Asia, but not here. Why?

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  2. Because BC Ferries management’s head is so far up its behind it can’t see the light of day! I suggested (not that I know anything) that they switch to NG five years ago. I think they finally MAY have seen that light. But ELECTRIC? Inconceivable, even though Norway has them in place.
    Same thinkers as Site C? Probably all went to the same school. Maybe, like Chrispy Clark, they failed to graduate?

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  3. Its time some one walked in to the B.C Ferries board room and fired the board. Then trotted over to some of the senior people and explained to them, if they didn’t start changing things, they too would be fired and this time it would be with cause. perhaps Mr. Eby could deliver the message. Its so much more fun when the top law dog in the province delivers the message.

    The B. of D. needs to be more responsive to the needs of the community and speaking of community the Corporation needs to come back as a Crown Corporation. That leg. should be easy to pass. el gordo put it at an arms length so the Leg. could not ask the questions and demand answers. its gone on long enough. I certainly don’t forget that el gordo had those Germany ferries built, took out an extra $750M, charged it to B.C. Ferries and put the money in General Revenue and pronounced the government budget balanced. That almost 3 billion was at 10% interest because the Corp. was no longer a Crown Corp. if it had been, it would have been 3%.

    Enough of having B.C. ferries built in any other country than Canada. The State of Washington has legislation that all State Ferries are to be built in Washington State. If they can do it, why not us. Perhaps we ought to hire their CEO.

    Enough of selling off ferries immediately. We need to keep a few ferries in “storage” in cases of emergency and or break downs of the new ones. In case the government hasn’t figured it out, we have a lot of islands around the province and with a rise in forest fires, we need a few extra ferries just in case we need to evacuate on the coast. it would also be helpful to have the extra ferries to move equipment and fire fighters into an area.

    Now as to building a ferry too large, well I’m sure some one somewhere sees a benefit to it. The ferry described in this article, of course its too large. so why was that built? Some one ought to have a look at the books. Because B.C. Ferries is not a Crown Corp. that is much more difficult. Was a loan taken out to have the ferry built? did someone add a few million or hundred million to the bill and put it somewhere else, like general revenue? Perhaps that is why the ferry is so big……..needed to make the other money disappear.

    What ever is going on, we need a new B. of D. and they ought to include the people who are served by the ferries. It might be helpful if two members of the board were actual users of the ferry system, you know like one from the Gulf Islands and another from Vancouver Island. You don’t have to be a brains trust to do the job, we have seen that with the current lot and our former premier. most any active community member could handle the job. There are certainly enough people living on the islands who would volunteer for the job or be elected by those who are served by the ferries.

    Do I want to know what is going on? Of course. Its time for the NDP/Greens to bring the Ferry Corp. back into the Crown Corp. group. so lets hear from the Greens. they are after all supposed to be environmental.

    As to using electric ferries. Its amazing what Norway uses electricity for. They have an electric train system to haul huge loads and have been doing it since the early part of the last century. IF we could get electric ferries, why not. On some of the small “back and forth” runs, it would be just fine.

    enough of my rant, thanks for the space/

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  4. Right now there are 54 ; roll on,roll off ferries, for sale in Europe that range in age from 2018 to 1995 , all in the size range for vehicles of about 50 to 75.
    A 2018 vintage vessel is currently offered at CDN $5 million. The number and prices for offered ships suggest a “buyers” market and not one when a buyer should be paying 9 time the true market price.

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    • Wonder if we could take the whole bunch at 5 mil /pop? That’s $270 million or about one fortieth the price of Site C.
      Ooops. I forgot to include shipping. Next month’s Site C budget over-run should cover transport.

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  5. Hi Norm; Would you please sight the place you got the price of the Texada ferry cost from. That is way off the charts.
    Back in my day I had occasion to look new aircraft like B767 , DC 9, AB 300. We were buying for US$ 200 million . Lots of new people wanting to be best friend, particularly from Airbus.

    I have the tea shirt and I know the feeling about being at the centre of such a purchasing deal and it is no fun. It is simple to do as done by Air Canada and take he money and go to New York .

    There is something very wrong with a new ferry price of CDN $ 43 million given the offerings I have had for new and near new ferries at CDN $5-6 million.

    I would like to put this offer to the test but of course that will not happen.

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    • In June 2017, BC Ferries announced it had awarded a contract to a European shipyard for construction of two “minor class” ferries. The announced budget was $86.5 million for both ships, although the cost may well rise beyond that amount. In BC, we’ve grown accustomed to the budgets of public projects rising significantly after they are awarded.

      The ferries are being constructed at Damen Shipyards Galati, in Romania.

      The vessels are supposed to be in service by summer 2020 and in making the announcement, BC Ferries’ Mark Collins bluntly said, “We’re not designing the ship to fit the route.”

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      • Well maybe they’ll get around to designing the route to fit the ship?
        That’ll be interesting! For this we need 18 (eighteen!) directors. No
        wonder they can’t get it right!!!

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  6. Having used the ferries since Black Ball days, I’ve waited in ferry parking lots longer than most people. I guess it doesn’t give me real expertise but lacking that would put me on par with the people running the ferry service for many years.

    Like TransLink, BC Hydro and other public bodies, boards of the operating company and the BC Ferry Authority have been landing zones for patronage appointments. I’d wager that a great many directors seldom use this marine service. Why the hell do we need 18 directors for the two companies? Why the hell do we need two companies plus the BC Ferry Commission. (The last report from that costly office was published eight months ago)

    No more than one of the 18 directors are there to represent user groups. Consumers are entertained in Ferry Advisory Committees where they can be patronized and ignored.

    I heard about the FAC complaining that a proposal – for the Comox-Powell River ferry to have one trip a day stop in Blubber Bay – had been raised annually for years without a response. When asked in 2017 why there had been no action on the request, the BC Ferries CEO said they hadn’t been able to respond because there had been no “formal request.” Someone from the FAC then said the ferry company had provided no procedure for making formal requests.

    Joseph Heller (Catch-22) could not have plotted it better.

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