VICTORIA– As ferry users face another blow to affordability today, New Democrats are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to take action to save B.C.’s critical ferry system.
“Today, many ferry users are paying 100 per cent more than they were in 2003, when the B.C. Liberals brought in the Coastal Ferry Act. But while the Liberal government has acknowledged that fares are beyond a breaking point, they are still neglecting this escalating problem, sitting on their hands while this situation gets worse,” said New Democrat ferries critic Claire Trevena.
Between the 3.5-per-cent fuel surcharge that comes into effect today, and the planned 4-per-cent fare hike coming April 1, ferry fares will jump by an average of 7.5 per cent over three months.
“For more than a decade, the Liberal government has watched as fares have risen, ridership has fallen, and both debt and exorbitant executive salaries ballooned at B.C. Ferries. Now, we are seeing the devastating results of this Liberal mismanagement, and still they are refusing to take meaningful action to fix the ferry system our coastal communities and our provincial economy depend on,” said Trevena.
Trevena has called for the government to reverse its short-sighted decision to slash ferry services and instead do the real work needed to put our ferries back on track.
“Since these cuts were announced in November, we have heard hundreds of stories about the devastating effects they will have on the provincial economy, and on people in ferry-dependent communities. The Liberal government should have heard these stories too. But even after telling media that his approach to these cuts would be to ‘look people in the eyes and talk to them about why it’s necessary,’ Transportation Minister Todd Stone failed to show up to a single meeting with affected communities,” said Trevena.
“The people of these communities did show up, in droves, to share stories about what they will lose when these cuts go ahead. The effects are so clear, and so devastating, the only appropriate response would be to cancel these cuts immediately.”