Minister of Transportaton takes issue with claim ferry review a ‘waste of time’

The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure takes issue with a Quadra Island ferry critic’s claim that the NDP government’s review of the coastal ferry system is a “waste of time.”

“I would like to correct (Strathcona Regional District director) Jim Abram’s assertions about the government’s forthcoming review of our coastal ferry system including the claim it is ‘a waste of time,’ as he states it in a recent story in this paper (Director disappointed in ferry review parameters, calls review ‘a waste of time’, Campbell River Mirror, Dec. 19, 2017),” Claire Trevena says in a letter to the Campbell River Mirror.

Trevena disagrees with Abram “continually” asserting that BC Ferries should be a part of the Ministry of “Highways.”

“Mr. Abram should know that the coastal ferries network has never been under the auspices of the ministry in its entirety,” the North Island MLA and former critic of BC Ferries when she was in opposition. “Our government campaigned on a comprehensive review of our coastal ferries, and we’re now starting that review. The purpose of it is to make sure B.C. has a ferry service that works in the public interest, on behalf of coastal communities, and for those who live and work on the coast.

“To jump to conclusions, tear up the legislation, turn back the clock to the 1970’s and demand that BC Ferries be brought into the Ministry of Transportation without first doing a thorough examination of the challenges and finding ways to improve the existing model would be irresponsible.

“Regardless of whether our ferry system is held within government, is a Crown Corporation, or operates as it does under the Coastal Ferry Act, ferry users want one thing: for the system to work for them. Our ‘soup to nuts’ review will look at many aspects of the service under very clear terms of reference, from operations and procedures, to how fares are set and ferries are procured. The review will determine where the system can be fixed so coastal communities have the ferry service they expect.”

The minister also says that beside the review, the government is fulfilling a promise for more affordable ferry travel. In April, fares will be frozen on the major routes connecting Vancouver Island to the mainland, fares will be rolled back 15 per cent on the other routes, and the government is reinstating the full seniors’ passenger discount on Monday to Thursday sailings.

“As Minister, and someone who lives in a coastal community, I am proceeding with a thorough, thoughtful and systematic approach to reviewing how our coastal ferry service is working for British Columbians, and how it can better serve them. I look forward to receiving the report and assessing its recommendations next June,” Trevena’s letter concludes.

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