Brace yourself, folks, for yet another round of scary ferry hikes. Once again, the prospect of huge fare increases and trip decreases is on the horizon.
Over the next three years, it will cost 12 per cent more to take that trip into town. For some people, thatís no concern. They couldnít care less. The last time they sailed on BC Ferries, Nixon was president, Dave Barrett was premier, and the population of the Coast was 13,000.
However, for the rest of us who need to travel to the Lower Mainland and the outside world, this is a big deal ó so big that we think itís time to take matters into our own hands and start actively planning an alternative form of transportation.
Two spring to mind ó†a highway connecting us to Squamish or a bridge system that could take us in hops, skips and jumps over Keats and Bowen islands to West Vancouver. Neither alternative would be cheap, but they could be done.
In the past, weíve seen massive fundraising campaigns instigated for our local hospital that have been wildly successful. In no time at all, we raised millions for a CAT scanner and many more millions to equip the new extension of the hospital.
Now we think itís time for the Sunshine Coast to put that energy, drive and money into a new transportation system. With the right person leading the charge, we think itís doable. If the powers that be were to see we were serious about putting our money where our mouth is and not just standing around wringing our hands and whining, they might be spurred to loosen the transportation purse strings. It certainly worked for the hospital initiatives.
With land alternatives to the ferry system, there could be cost savings because the ferry service could be reduced to one shift per day or eliminated entirely if buses were used for the present walk-on passengers. The realized savings could go to the new road/bridges. And because weíre already used to being gouged at every turn, tolls on the new routes wouldnít be any harder to fork over than what weíre already paying to cross Howe Sound.
We have a lot of brilliant people on the Coast. We suspect some of them are retired engineers who would love the opportunity to prove to the B.C. government that there is a feasible alternative to the big ferries.
A way to travel that didnít involve sitting in a long lineup on a blisteringly hot day with one-sailing waits and cancellations would benefit us all. Itís long past time to think outside the boat.
Bring on the bridges.