Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Alternative Solution to BC Ferries' Budget Woes

A propos the proposed cuts to BC Ferries, here’s my take on things. I am writing from the perspective of a Victoria resident who makes occasional trips to Vancouver, sometimes for business and sometimes for pleasure. Most of those trips tend to be round trip affairs, and almost always during the week. I always take my car.

I don’t go to Vancouver very often- certainly not as often as I used to. There are two, related reasons for that- the prohibitive costs involved and deficiencies in the schedule.

Say, for instance, I want to attend a one-day conference in Vancouver. Typically, these affairs begin with early registration, sometimes with breakfast thrown in. This period usually runs from 8 to 8:30 AM. Then comes the keynote speech, typically around 9 AM. Well, if I get the 7 AM ferry from Victoria, I’ll be lucky to arrive at the conference by 9:30 AM, which means I’ve missed the first hour of activities, networking, etc. So, if I want to be there for that portion of the activities, I basically have to travel to Vancouver the night before and stay in a hotel, at an additional cost of around $200. What with fares, conference fees, hotel bill and meals, gas, etc. we’re talking of total costs in the neighbourhood of $500 to $600, just for a one day event! THAT’S WHY I TEND NOT TO DO SUCH TRIPS ANYMORE- THEY’RE IMPRACTICAL AND WAY TOO EXPENSIVE!:

Now, let’s take the ‘pleasure’ example. Here we might want to travel to Vancouver during the day and take in dinner and a concert in the evening. Again, because of BC Ferries’ odd schedule, whereby the last ferry leaves Tsawassen at 10 PM ( if you’re lucky! ), it’s not doable. So, here again, one is forced to stay overnight in a hotel, which becomes prohibitively expensive.

In short, BC Ferries gets us both ways: one either arrives too late in the morning in Vancouver, or has to return too early in the evening to Victoria.

What’s the solution? Why not put two of the older, smaller ferries on the Swartz Bay-Tsawassen run very early in the morning and late at night? I think there might be quite a market for this type of run, because it would save a lot of people like myself an awful lot of money.

In conclusion, cutting ferries and the schedule is one way to possibly save money. But, what I’m proposing could potentially MAKE money for the corporation, as it responds to pent up demand.