BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rates?

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Nebula
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by Nebula »

NAB wrote:Suffice to say at this point that I do no believe BC Ferries should be involved in the cruise business...

Yet apparently it is okay for BC Ferries to be in the deliver-my-gas-hog-of-a-recreational-vehicle-to-elsewhere-so-I-can-camp-with-creature-comforts business.

There has to be some kind of rationalization to this. What is a basic service; what is a luxury?
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steven lloyd
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by steven lloyd »

Nebula wrote:I understand that, Steven. However, if the government were to take all of our money (every nickel) to build gold plated roads and deluxe ferry routes, would that still be 'improving' the economy?

Maybe for the people in the road gold-plating business, but I digress. I do hope, however, that I haven’t given you the impression my solution would be to throw more money at the issue. That is not where I’m coming from at all.

NAB wrote:I'll address my thoughts on the Northern Route when time permits Steven. Suffice to say at this point that I do not believe BC Ferries should be involved in the cruise business, which I see that route as primarily.

That point is well taken Nabs. Like I say I calculated it is cheaper for my wife and I to fly return and rent a car than to travel even one way along that route with my own car.

Anyways, gotta go ... (no waving hand emoticon)
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by I Think »

Nebula wrote: it is okay for BC Ferries to be in the deliver-my-gas-hog-of-a-recreational-vehicle-to-elsewhere-so-I-can-camp-with-creature-comforts business.


If the vehicle costs were reduced, would more tourists (American & vehicles rented by Euro's) visit more BC islands spending their money as they went. Presently all travelers find the ferry costs very limiting, not just we BC residents. I have traveled on ferries operating with unfilled spaces. Letting low cost vehicles fill those empty spaces would only increase the ferry profit margin.
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NAB
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by NAB »

Nebula wrote:
NAB wrote:Suffice to say at this point that I do no believe BC Ferries should be involved in the cruise business...

Yet apparently it is okay for BC Ferries to be in the deliver-my-gas-hog-of-a-recreational-vehicle-to-elsewhere-so-I-can-camp-with-creature-comforts business.

There has to be some kind of rationalization to this. What is a basic service; what is a luxury?


BC Ferries should be in the business of transporting people, vehicles, and goods, just as our highways and bridges exist for transporting people, vehicles, and goods. What kind of vehicle it is has no bearing on the issue under discussion IMO. If you have a problem with people who own and operate recreational vehiclles, then at least apply it equitably, not just to BC Ferries.

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Nebula
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by Nebula »

With all due respect, if you didn't want RVs used as an example, you shouldn't have raised it.

If ferries should be treated no differently than highways and bridges, then they should be free; complete subsidization.
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by I Think »

Nebula wrote:If ferries should be treated no differently than highways and bridges, then they should be free; complete subsidization.


What would the net effect of having free ferries be? Would it increase the standard of living for enough people, to create a net positive?

BTW I think twas I that brought RV's into the discussion, just one example, trucks and buses are also examples, imo the only decent 'deal' is the walk on rate.
Last edited by I Think on Feb 9th, 2011, 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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NAB
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by NAB »

Nebula wrote:If ferries should be treated no differently than highways and bridges, then they should be free; complete subsidization.


Exactly!

Edit: And user pay tolls applied, be it ferries, bridges, or highways, wherever.
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grammafreddy
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by grammafreddy »

It's been many a year since I was on BC ferries - especially the ones at the coast.

Does BC Ferries also operate the inland ferries? Are they part of that larger ferry budget? Or are those numbers just for the coast ones?
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by Glacier »

Nebula wrote:If ferries should be treated no differently than highways and bridges, then they should be free; complete subsidization.

Because of the high operating costs associated with running ferries, I'd say that there should a charge for riding the ferries. (I'd also like to see tolls on free-ways and bridges, but that is another topic.)

Now roads are paid for largely by the Dedicated Motor Fuel Tax (6.75¢/l), but since no one is running their vehicles on the ferry we can see why they have little means of paying for themselves short of ticket sales. Of course, the same parallel can be drawn between ferries and remote, seldom travelled roads because they are also subsidized by heavier traffic highways.

When it comes to the smaller and northern routes, the current level of service should be maintained because of the economic benefit to the areas. I don't have the exact numbers for how much of a passenger's fair is subsidized, but it would be safe to assume that someone travelling from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert would be spending at least this much travelling and touring the Province on the way back home.

In my view, the BC government needs to raise the Dedicated Motor Fuel Tax to pay for our roads and ferries. Washington State, for example, has a rate double ours.

Other questions have are: When was the last time this tax was raised? And has the rate kept up with inflation? Does anyone know, per chance?

Another good way to increase revenue would be implement a bed tax. In my Father-in-law's Alaskan burrow (similar to a country), they generate 100% of their taxes by taxing hotels, RV sites, and campsites. This tax has not negatively impacted the economy.
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grammafreddy
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by grammafreddy »

OK - I answered my own question - BC Ferries operates the coastal ones. Min T&H operates the inland ones.

Are there shops on the ferries? I know there's at least one restaurant on some of them. Could that expense be eliminated? Is there some reason people could not either bring their own food or go without a meal? The ferry rides are not all that long, are they?
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by Al Czervic »

What is somewhat interesting is that the generally accepted thinking behind the Carbon Tax is that if you tax carbon and make it more expensive, you will help to increase conservation efforts and reduce consumption. It is reasonably sound thinking because it is the reason why we turn off light switches, turn the gas furnace down and do not leave water running. We lower the consumption to save money.

So what is interesting is that BC Ferries continues to raise the rates and does not seem to expect a corresponding decrease in ridership even though it is only logical to conclude such a decrease will occur. Naturally this decline makes some runs even more costly. As I mentioned earlier this all leads in the direction of service reductions.

Of course the problem is that people do not like service reductions no more then they like paying more in increased user fees….both are unpopular decisions, which of course is why they often do not get made and that leads to other problems and at the same time the costs continue to rise. No matter how you cut it costs serious money to operate a ferry system and that is a fact I think that must be better recognized.
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grammafreddy
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by grammafreddy »

Re: bed tax.

The City of Kelowna has a motel room tax that I believe is 2% and goes to the CofC to use to promote the city.

Re: Dedicated Motor Fuel Tax (6.75¢/l)

There used to be something called a Highway Tax and the railroads, although they did not use the highways, paid it on their rail lines. Is this Dedicated Fuel Tax a replacement tax for the Highway Tax or is it in addition to it?

If raising the DFT results in the general public and industry paying more for fuel, I do not think it will be such a smart move. For one thing, it will raise the cost of all goods - which will result in job loss because of increased shipping expenses being passed along to the consumer.

I think the answer must, at least in part, be to cut service, but not necessarily cut the service runs.

What services does BC Ferries offer on their vessels that could be either eliminated or cut back?

Is the rate of pay appropriate for the work the people do aboard the ferries? Is it too high?
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steven lloyd
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by steven lloyd »

Nebula wrote: If ferries should be treated no differently than highways and bridges, then they should be free; complete subsidization.

This, of course, is not realistic. Obviously the costs of running the ferries is just too great. Besides, even with public bridges and highways the concept of user fees (ie. tolls) is not unheard of, and unlike highways and bridges ferry service will never be "paid off" (although even highways require maintenance and I don't want to bring up the failure of privatization again). I think there needs to be an objective examination into the demands of each route to determine which routes need to be subsidized more and which routes need to have reductions in service and/or increased user fees.
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by NAB »

I tend to view the coastal ferry system as three segments. Much related info can be obtained from perusing the various BC Ferries pages on the net. I have already commented on the Northern Route as one segment that should not be subsidized in any way. It is a long haul (23 hours +/- ?) and provides on board amenities in line with that length of trip. The second are the various short inter-island or mainland coastal links which, due to the the short time aboard, generally provide little if anything in the way of on board services at all. There is one short haul route which I think could be easily dispensed with (or operated privately) - the one that runs across Saanich Inlet between Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay.

The third category are the major routes between the Island and the mainland, and the run from the North Shore to the Sechelt area. These trips are typically over 2 hours, even three or much more hours long when waiting time is taken into consideration. Typically too, these vessels provide amenities, everything from comfortable lounges, outside concourses, to full cafeteria meals to snacks to gift shops to wireless internet access. Anyone who has not ridden these ferries will on their first trip be staggered by the prices charged for these various things. And while many do pack their own snacks and bring reading material, the majority do patronize these cafeterias and such at some point during the trip, if only for a cup of very expensive coffee.

My focus is primarily on this third category at present (those are the routes the new ferries were added to), as they are the primary transportation links between the main Island and the mainland (and the rest of Canada). Often these ferries do not run at full capacity, particularly during the off season or during the week (typically Monday through Thursday - then becoming a bottleneck Friday and Sunday afternoons). You can see these routes at the BC Ferries site, but I would point out for the info of those not that familiar with using the system there are four main routes being serviced between the BC mainland and Vancouver island.. From North island to Powell River, From South Island between the Capitol Region and Tsawwassen, and two routes from the Nanaimo area, .....one linking to Horseshoe Bay on the Vancouver region north shore (Trans Canada) and the other linking Nanaimo to Tsawwassen. Is this all overkill? ...Many Islanders seem to think so, but as I mentioned earlier we live in a convenience oriented world.

BTW. To me, the nuttiest one of them all is the Horsehoe Bay - Departure Bay (Nanaimo) route. I submit many (most?) of us would cheer if that one ceased to exist and the link to Horseshoe Bay (if one is even needed) handled out of Duke Point instead. But, much like Kelowna, we have this business element that fights to keep as much traffic as possible routed through the centre of the cities and up and down "the strip" instead of being able to easily bypass it if not one's primary destination. Similar applies to Horseshoe Bay and Vancouver region IMO.

PS. In looking at the ferry services Salt Spring Island gets, one might think there is possibly a lot of political pull resident there.

Nab
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Re: BC Ferries. Cut service, further subsidize or raise rate

Post by NAB »

Seems Hahn's suggestions as to rate increases goes something like 100% increase for the Northern route, 50% for the short haul routes, and 20% for the Main Island - Mainland routes. That seems to indicate which are the biggest money losers requiring either major service cutbacks, increased fares, increased subsidy, ...or two or more of those in combination. Rate increases of that magnitude are almost sure to further decrease use, producing a downward spiral in customers, and never ending calls for more subsidization of fewer and ever fewer users.

Seems to me we have seen similar before elsewhere with Bus Service (Greyhound?), where unprofitable routes and stops were to face major fare increases, service cutbacks, even elimination of stops. I can still hear the echoes of the screams of protest from those off the beaten path, low usage types affected, ....and their calls for taxpayers to subsidize transportation for the relative few who use it.

Similar complaints can constantly be heard related to city and inter-region Transit service, which I don't use, ...so I don't like subsidizing their ridership either. Perhaps all those systems should be looked at closely too with a view to having those who use them carry the full cost of the service? Service which, unlike the ferry system, contributes little to business and the provinces coffers by way of attraction of, and use by, tourists.

Nab
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