BC Ferries posted a revised schedule of the run between Horseshoe Bay and Snug Cove this week. The new schedule shows the cancellation of the 5:30am and 7:30am sailings from Snug Cove on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as the 7pm Snug Cove departure on Saturday and the 8pm Snug Cove departure on Sunday. Four sailings from Horseshoe Bay have also been cut from the weekend mornings and evenings.
Adam Holbrook, the chair of the Bowen Island Ferry Advisory Committee (BIMTAC), calls the cuts arbitrary but says that this schedule is an improved version of the one set out in the consultation document put out by BC Ferries in November.
“In mid-March, we met with them and they offered a revised version of the schedule which met our basic objectives,” said Holbrook, explaining that the municipality’s “basic objective” was to hold on to some early.
“It was at this meeting, in mid-March, that we realized that BC Ferries is determined to cut sailings,” says Holbrook.
He adds that, there is no way of knowing whether BC Ferries will save more or less, or how much more they will save than their goal of $270 thousand per year on this route.
“They won’t tell us how much a single sailing costs,” says Holbrook. “BC Ferries claims that any information about their operational costs is confidential, and the only way we could access it would be through a Freedom of Information request.”
Given the lack of information available, Holbrook says it is impossible to calculate the potential cost-savings of various solutions, such as home-porting the Queen of Capilano on Bowen, or making two-lane loading a possibility, thereby cutting the amount of time it takes to get cars on and off the ferry.
He says that BIMTAC will be looking at the public numbers that will become available once BC Ferries submits documents pertaining to upcoming contract negotiations. This will likely happen in September,
“This is very complicated, and we shouldn’t have to do it,” says Holbrook.
In the meantime, Holbrook says he and Mayor Adelaar intend to bring up the issue of information, and the lack of it, with Transportation Minister Todd Stone at their meeting with him this Friday.
Holbrook says that he and the mayor also intend to discuss ways that BC Ferries could serve Bowen better.
“Maybe having two smaller ferries going back and forth to Bowen might be more efficient than having just one big one. The Queen of Capilano should be going in for a re-fit in 2015, and we should have the opportunity to try new things.”
Holbrook says that most importantly, he wants the meeting with Minister Stone to be a “constructive” one, and he wants to see Bowen Island take the ferries issue more seriously, and approach the issue with a view toward long-term solutions.