Province announces coastal ferries vision for the future
Thousands of British Columbians took the time to provide feedback on a two-phased public engagement process to develop a vision for British Columbia’s coastal ferry services.
The findings align with the provincial government’s recent decision that applying a portion of the federal Safe Restart Agreement funding, along with its own matched funding commitment for BC Ferries, put the public’s interest first. This includes ensuring affordable fares, as well as access and reliability of service. The funding helps communities recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we heard from the public is that while the current ferry service works well for some, there’s lots of room for improvement for those who most depend on it – those who live in ferry-dependent communities,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Our vision is that travel by coastal ferries is seamless, equitable and compatible with the needs of coastal communities and our natural environment. 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 ministry heard from survey participants that their greatest concern with the existing ferry service is affordability, followed by scheduling and reliability. People expressed an interest in travelling without a personal vehicle if there were improvements, such as better parking at terminals or improved connectivity to other travel modes like public transit, taxi, ride hailing or cycling, or dedicated passenger-only ferry services in more accessible locations.
Participants expressed strong support for all four themes that emerged during the first phase of engagement. The key themes indicated that coastal ferry services should:
- support efficient end-to-end travel of people and goods;
- be equitable and accessible;
- mitigate and be responsive to climate change; and
- reflect the values of coastal communities.
Trevena will be meeting with BC Ferries Board, the BC Ferry Authority, its shareholders and the BC Ferries commissioner to discuss the feedback.
A Vision for Coastal Ferry Services, Phase 2 Engagement Summary of Feedback report: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/593/2020/09/7707-Coastal-Ferries-Phase-2-Report.pdf