The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is having a public open house meeting in Gibsons on Dec. 1 between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Cedars Inn. They are having similar meetings in other ferry dependent coastal communities to seek input on how ferry services should be reduced to save B.C. Ferries $26 million and to seek input on a long-term vision for coastal ferry services.
It is worth comparing the Horseshoe Bay/Langdale Route 3, which the MOTI contracts with B.C. Ferry Services, with other MOTI ferry routes in the province.
A similar route is the Kootenay Lake ferry route operated by Western Pacific Marine on contract to the MOTI.
The route crossing time is 35 minutes compared to 40 minutes for Route 3. Kootenay Lake relies on two vessels, the MV Osprey, which carries 80 vehicles and 250 passengers, and the MV Balfour, which carries 28 vehicles and 150 passengers.
In summer the Kootenay Lake route offers 15 round trips and in the winter 10 round trips with departures from 6:30 a.m. to 10:20 p.m. Route 3 has up to 12 round trips on select summer days and eight round trips during the winter, operating between 6:20 a.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Route 3 passengers pay $7 for children five to 11, $14 for adult passengers, $47.10 for automobiles and about $370 for a typical transport truck with driver.
Kootenay Lake passengers, vehicles and transport trucks ride for free. All inland ferries (there are 14 routes) are free of charge to users. No meetings are scheduled for inland communities to consider how services can be reduced or fares charged to make up the cost of providing inland ferry services. Inland ferries operating costs of $21.8 million a year are taxpayer funded.
David Dick, Gibsons