As far as ferry riders are concerned, lower fares are the most pressing area of improvement for the service.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released a report this week on a second phase of public engagement as part of a coastal ferry service visioning process.
Thirty-nine per cent of those surveyed said fares are the area of ferry service that needs the most improvement, while 18 per cent said scheduling needed the most work and 14 per cent pointed to sailing waits.
Some of the concerns about fares noted in the report were that unaffordability is increasing and that ferry service should be affordable for all community members.
Claire Trevena, minister of transportation and infrastructure, said in a press release that the current ferry service works well for some, but there’s “lots of room for improvement” identified by residents of ferry-dependent communities.
“Our vision is that travel by coastal ferries is seamless, equitable and compatible with the needs of coastal communities and our natural environment,” Trevena said. “These may sound like basic principles for any transportation service, but these are all areas where we’ve heard improvements need to be made.”
The report noted that tourists, infrequent travellers and those with high household incomes were more satisfied with ferry service, while those who live in ferry-dependent regions and those with lower household incomes were less satisfied.
Among the survey respondents, more than two-thirds always or often bring a vehicle onto the ferry, but 53 per cent of respondents said better public transit connections would make them more likely to travel as a foot passenger.
The press release noted that Trevena will meet with the BC Ferries board, ferry commissioner and the B.C. Ferry Authority to discuss findings of the public engagement process.
A previous press release noted that the information gathered through public engagement will be used to “develop a provincial vision to guide the future of British Columbia’s coastal ferry service.”
The ministry said the survey findings align with the B.C. government’s decision to provide BC Ferries with federal-provincial COVID-19 recovery restart funding. The ferry corporation is receiving $308 million.
Mark Collins, BC Ferries president and CEO, said in a statement that the restart funding will assist in its plan to provide “safe, reliable and affordable ferry service.”