Editorial: BC Ferries taking Coasters for a ride

They did it again. After a dreadful weekend performance on Route 3 highlighted by overloads, delays and unbelievable walk-on passenger lineups at Langdale, BC Ferries released a “summer schedule” Monday that completely stiffed the Sunshine Coast. While the other major routes got 120 additional sailings a week, Route 3 got zero extra sailings for the remainder of June and all of July.

Customers were naturally furious and late Tuesday afternoon the ferry company issued a service notice announcing it was adding an extra round-trip sailing to the route from June 25 to 29 and July 2 to 6.

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BC Ferries appears to be buying a little time until the bottom falls out again in the second week of July, in which case it might toss in a few more sailings to appease the angry mob, just as it did this week, and just as it did on June 5 when it reversed its decision to cut evening sailings – but only after that ridiculous schedule had gone into effect – and just as it did last week with Earls Cove and 10 other minor routes after the province came through with $180,000.

It’s become a predictable pattern. The series of miscalculations and quick reversals shows either gross incompetence at the helm or a cynical strategy to squeeze more money out of the provincial government by amplifying coastal outrage. Either way, Coasters are being taken for a ride.

Robert Dall, one of many readers who contacted us this week to relate their miserable BC Ferries experiences, called the premier and the prime minister after it cost him 12 hours of travel time on Monday to keep a 15-minute medical appointment in Vancouver. “With medical appointments in Vancouver, we can’t avoid travelling,” Mr. Dall said. “I have to go again in two weeks and the sheer anxiety I have in travelling because I have to – not because I want to – is absolutely not meeting the basic needs of residents of the Sunshine Coast.”

Suzanne Laurin addressed her concerns in a lengthy email Tuesday to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau. “As a resident of Gibsons I travel on the ferry for work. This morning I almost didn’t get on even though I was in line before 25 per cent of the traffic that loaded before me,” she wrote.

“You cannot continue to support population growth in an area that does not have the transportation infrastructure developed to support a working class people… Organized protests are starting to look like our only option if we do not get support from our government.

“This has gone on too long and we are tired of it.”

And on it goes. The problems have been identified, many times. Tacking a few extra sailings onto yet another terrible schedule is not a long-term solution.

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Will eight round-trip sailings a day on the Langdale route this summer be enough to meet the needs of the Sunshine Coast?

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