For those of you who are not on Facebook, I’m sharing Mayor Darnelda Seigers’ post of Friday, July 3 regarding service on the Langdale ferry route.
I have been reading a number of posts regarding BC Ferries and the inconveniences locals are having. Here’s some background on the situation at BC Ferries. They are dealing with the result of the pandemic just like everyone else.
This past spring, when BC Ferries would have usually hired their seasonal staff, plans were put on hold due to COVID. They could not hire and train any seasonal staff. Then, essential travel and resident priority were mandated because of the Provincial State of Emergency. BC Ferries had to reduce reservations to accommodate locals (an uncertain number at any time) and, due to the Federal Transportation mandate, only carry 50% of passengers. The Province mandated they maintain their contracted sailings while also keeping on staff.
Because we were all staying home, Ferry traffic fell 80% in 5 days. They were bleeding $1M to $1.5M per day.
Now, with no seasonal staff and ridership increasing , faster on some routes than others, they are attempting to provide service. The ridership on our route is still 25 – 30% below last year. Other routes are still at approximately 50% below last year. They are currently still losing $750,000 per day while providing contracted services. They are only adding additional sailings where they are financially viable to minimize losses.
In response to ridership increasing on our route, they have recently added sailings, spaced out the sailings more to help with on time status, and are giving our ship priority loading at Horseshoe Bay. Without the seasonal employees, they cannot add the second ship as they did last year. They will attempt to reroute ships from other routes to provide additional capacity on our route, if possible.
This shuffling of our sailing times is to provide as much capacity as they can without the additional seasonal staff. This means they have had to also shuffle prebooked reservations to the new sailing times. They did mine, too.
Overall, BC Ferries needs financial assistance from the Provincial and Federal government as they are using their capital funds, previously earmarked for the Langdale ferry upgrade and our second ship and other capital expenditures to cover off their operating costs instead. They do not qualify for any of the financial programs provincially or federally. Also, they don’t know if we will have a second wave of COVID this fall. They are trying to do the best they can in a tough situation. Is it inconvenient and difficult for us? Yes, and they recognize that and are attempting to mitigate as best they can within the very challenging and constrained Financal environment they are In.
As we start travelling more and, with the uptick in medical appointments, I know this time is personally impactful for all of us and particularly those who have appointments they need to make on the mainland. I believe BC Ferries is doing the best they can under very challenging circumstances. I’d ask that you please cut them some slack. Behind the glitches and the mistakes are humans just like you and I and they are trying as best they can. We do not have an alternative. BC Ferries is our highway. They know it. Their financial challenges have pushed their capital improvement plans out at least 5 years and maybe longer. When this is all over, they know we will be coming to them and ask for the capital projects they promised and they won’t be able to deliver those either.
Please contact Minister Claire Trevena and Premier John Horgan and request they provide financial support for BC Ferries. The $180,000 they will say they provided is a drop in the bucket. There is some money earmarked for BC from the Federal Government that will be provided within the next while. I’d like to see some of it go to BC Ferries. Please reach out and advocate for BC Ferries with our provincial and federal government. BC Ferries needs help so they can help us. Thank you for reading.
Mayor Darnelda Siegers