New Democrat ferries critic begins fact finding tour of Washington State ferry system

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VICTORIA – New Democrat Transportation critic, Claire Trevena, leaves today on a five-day fact-finding tour of the Washington State ferry system.

“Ferry users in B.C. have faced years of steep rate hikes, and will soon face service cuts,” said Trevena. “We need to look at this problem from every angle, and that includes looking at a ferry system that has maintained affordability for users.”

Washington State Ferries operates the largest ferry system in the U.S., with 22 vessels and 20 terminals. Trevena acknowledged that the Washington State system and B.C. Ferries are different, but said a better understanding of what’s working south of the border could yield ideas to improve B.C.’s system.

“The B.C. Liberals have done little to fix the problems they created since they quasi-privatized B.C. Ferries. They won’t even sit in the legislature this fall to deal with lavish pay increases and bonuses awarded to executives when the corporation is contemplating service cuts,” said Trevena. “The government just needs to amend the Coastal Ferries Act and the practice would stop.

“We can’t afford to follow the Liberal lead and just give up on this system – it’s too important for B.C.’s economy.”

Since 2003, ferry fares have increased by 45 per cent on the major routes and 85 per cent on the minor ones. This fall the government will be looking at cutting sailings to solve a problem it created.

“The upcoming cuts to ferry routes will not only impact the coastal communities that rely on them, but also the economy of our province, which depends on reliable transportation lines,” said Trevena. “The ferry system is an integral part of our infrastructure. We need to take action now to protect it.”