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BC Ferries should be run like YVR to turn a profit: economist

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Running BC Ferries more like YVR could be a fix for the corporation’s perpetual cash crunch, that’s according to one BC economist.

The airport hasn’t always been the award-winning hub it is now, argues Dr. Roslyn Kunin.  She adds it got there by finding ways to make money rather than reach out for government assistance.

“The airport provides airport-running services.  Now, if BC Ferries could get its act together and work very hard to become a profit-maximizing, revenue-generating ferry service, then it too, like the airport, could sell these management services.”

“[It could then sell services] as a consultant to other ferry services and similar transportation links around the world.  It could also look at additional services it might provide to customers in its ports and on its ships,” she suggests.

The airport also collects cash from the time-saving Airport Passport Control machines which reduce bottlenecks and were developed at YVR.  The technology is sold to other airports.

However, NDP Transportation Critic Claire Travena says the idea has been tried, and failed when it comes to BC Ferries.

“We already have the YVR model; it was set up under the Coastal Ferries Act to have this specific model for running ferries.  It’s clearly been a failure so I don’t see how we could possibly expand it and make it in any way a success.  The government tried to privatize BC Ferries back in 2001, 2002 and what we have now is the resulting failure.  No one wanted to buy it so we now have this very strange airport structure running BC Ferries.”

Travena says people have also suggested full-on privatization as a way of making the service profitable, but she doubts that would work either.

“Nobody wanted to buy BC Ferries back 15 years ago when the government first tried to sell it off so I’m not sure anybody is going to want to buy it right now,” she says.

The corporation raised ferry fares on April 1st.