SIPOA Ferry Use Survey - Responses - December 22, 2012

SIPOA Ferry Use Survey - Responses - December 22, 2012

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Total returns received: 52

(Note: some answer totals exceed total returns; some respondents gave more than one answer.)

Where do you live, most of the time?

1a. Saturna: 25

1b. Mainland (Canada, US, Elsewhere): 27

1c. Vancouver Island: 5

Approximately, how many round trips do you take to, or from, Saturna annually?

2a. By ferry: 1,419

2b. By plane: 188

2c. By Private boat: 79

When you travel on the ferry, do you usually take a vehicle?

3a. Car : 34

3b. Truck; 16

3c. Camper/5th wheel: 1.5

3d. No vehicle: 6

When do you travel mostly?

4a. Weekdays - Monday to Thursday: 37.5

4b. Weekends - Friday to Sunday (including Holiday Mondays): 7.5

4c. No special day: 13

How many people in each of the following age group/s travel to/from your Saturna property at least once per month?

5a. Children fare payers (under 13): 1

5b. Adult Fare payers (13 +): 87

5c. Are some, or all, of the adults BC Seniors?: 47

How many times per month do you have guests arriving as foot passengers?

6a. October to April: 50

6b. May to September : 96

(1 “several”, 1 “seldom”)

Are there any problems encountered by you or your guests as foot passengers?

7a. Yes: 13

7b. No : 34

If the political decision is to continue with the current funding arrangements for BCF on the minor routes including Southern Gulf Islands, and you had to make a choice, which would you choose?

8a. Reduced service: 18

8b. Higher fares: 7

8c. A combination of the two: 21

(“None of the above”: 6)

Does the uncertainty of ferry issues cause you to consider selling your Saturna property?

9a. Yes: 24

9b. No: 28

If fares continue to rise over the cost of living will it curtail your travel to/from Saturna?

10a. Yes: 40

10.b. No:12

Is the Experience Card available to you?

11a. Yes: 36

11b No: 16

Do you use the Experience Card?

12a. Yes: 33

12b. No: 16

Are your trips primarily for business/commercial reasons?

13a. Yes: 8.5

13b. No: 40.5

How does the uncertainty of ferry issues affect your business?

(answers compiled below)

Any other comments?

(answers compiled below)



Additional Comments cut and pasted from the survey form returns (somewhat grouped, but in no particular order).

  1. The ferry service is an extension of the Highway System and must be delivered as such. Politicians do not know how to run a marine transportation system. The entire management and financial structure of the ferries should be placed in the hands of an independent committee of citizens of BC, with a mandate to return the ferry service to what it was originally intended, “To serve the people of BC.” The users of the service (taxpayers) pay for it. They must he heard and responded to. No more lip service and creative accounting. The entire system requires an in-depth reorganization, starting with the provincial government.
  1. Gov’t should pay for ferries just like they currently pay for roads, bridges.

If the political decision is to continue with the current funding arrangements for BCF on the minor routes including Southern Gulf Islands, and you had to make a choice, which would you choose? 8a. Reduced service 8b Higher fares 8c A combination of the two.

  1. 8a. Reduced service with the caveat that having no fare incentives in the off season is ridiculous; when you fly it's cheaper on some days of the week than others, it makes no sense that a Friday night crossing in late November is the same as mid-August.
  1. 8a. Reduced service (Fares are unfairly high at present).
  1. Service cannot be reduced (it can be made more efficient by home-porting on Saturna) and I do not accept higher fares. Government has to come to the table with sufficient, sustainable funding
  1. Neither is practical. For most, the only way on and off the island is by ferry. Higher fares will not increase ridership. The bc ferries should become part of the Highway service similar to other areas of the province where small communities are served by ferries without a charge.
    Where government has a monopoly it was to protect the people of the province and ensure everyone has access to that particular service at reasonable rates. That is what bc ferries is, a monopoly. Isolating small communities even further is not the right choice by reducing service runs and/or increasing fares.
  1. Neither – there are other ways to increase efficiencies. I would even suggest that LOWERING fares may net Ferries more revenue, at least in summer and holiday times.
  1. Neither -- our ferries should be part of BC highway and transit system,
  2. I would choose to have fares pegged to other public transit, i.e. Translink, with student and senior fare concessions, some going up, others coming down.
  1. Lower fares. This is a ‘Have you stopped beating your wife` question. Very sad question for professional surveyors.
  2. Add 8d. Improved system efficiency, e.g. home porting, short-link to Mayne.

When you travel on the ferry, do you usually take a vehicle?

  1. I am increasingly leaving my vehicle behind, but probably take the vehicle 50% of the time.
  1. Any other comments? The ferry system has been underfunded for decades and the current crisis is totally manufactured by the governments over the past three decades. It's time to recognize that the system has to change (become more efficient) and be funded properly. Users have paid enough. Further fare increases will jeopardize the few revenues BC Ferries receives.

Are there any problems encountered by you or your guests as foot passengers?

  1. 7a. Yes lack of surety in getting on the ferry - reservations not available for foot passengers - have been bounced
  2. 7 a . sometimes no room for them on return trip, so annoyingly have to go via Swartz to get to Mainland
  3. 7. a - no food service
  4. 7a. Yes, making timely bus connections often difficult or impossible.
  5. 7a. Yes, only occasional late arrivals.
  6. New seating on the Mayne Queen is very uncomfortable.
  7. 7a. Bus service schedules not in sync with ferry schedules.
  8. 7a. Getting around the island once they get here.
  9. The service to the lower mainland is already very poor, so???
  10. Not with the ferry itself but with the timing of the transit bus for the return to Victoria. If the ferry is on time and you run across the terminal you can just make the bus if you run at the speed of light . The drivers could be instructed to hold it for the gulf island ferry passengers when the afternoon ( arriving around 6:20) ferry is on time as they often do for the Vancouver passengers. The evening is disrupted unnecessarily when a bus pulls out just as you come out from the terminal!
  11. Yes, if they have a small pet they have to remain on the car deck. During the summer months there is not enough seating for those with pets; In the winter they are exposed to the weather.
  1. I think an Experience Card to go to the mainland would be helpful as far as fares are concerned. I also think the travel from Saturna and other islands should be subsidized similar to travel on the mainland. I also don't understand why some ferries in the interior are totally subsidized so that no fares are paid by the customers. I also think this consultation may be a waste of time and no one in decision making position is going to take heed of any opinions. I also think that the interior of the ships where passengers use, should be quite ordinary and functional so that groups can gather and conversations can take place easily.

Does the uncertainty of ferry issues cause you to consider selling your Saturna property?

  1. 9a. Yes. It will hasten my eventual sale as primary services (doctor, dental, pharmacy, financial services, etc. unavailable on island)
  2. Moving off island to be here for cottage only.
  1. General Comment: The BC Government must treat BC Ferries subsidies more

like those for Transit and Highways.

  1. Too bad there is no consideration given for reduced or incentive rates for Lower Mainlanders to go to the island more frequently. I am sure if there were the equivalent of ‘coffee cards’.. buy 10 , get one free-idea, there would be more travellers..
  1. Smaller communities pay a share to maintain highways and bridges across the province through taxes collected. I believe the answer to maintaining affordable ferry fares would be to have bc ferries trim ‘the fat’ and look at how each ferry is run, how they are staffed, and where they dock overnight. The other observation is that the corporate level salaries are out of line for public sector as compared to private sector. Develop an incentive plan that asked employees for suggestions as well as the smaller communities served by the ferries, then listen. Act on the suggestions put forth.

Perhaps bringing in someone like Jimmy Pattison to review operations and make suggestion might not be a bad idea. I may not always agree with how he runs his different enterprises, but the man knows business and how to operate lean. I have seen over and over again some very solid suggestions from the public that make sense through newspaper articles, letters to bc ferries, and open forums. Perhaps it’s time that bc ferries operated to serve the people as it was originally intended in smaller communities. Grandfather the new employees coming on so that they are not unionized. Pay them what they would be paid in the private sector. That includes those at the top. Bring salaries and operating costs into line. Having said that, the challenge of making these changes will not be easy, the reality is raising fares and cutting service is not practical for small island and remote communities.

We all agree change has to happen, so, just do it. Act on a review and suggestions put forth. There have been many and several are solid, practical decisions. Management needs to act.

  1. I support the Mayne Island ferry idea if something has to change...I know that ferries will NEVER be home based on Saturna.
  1. Increased government funding is the only option along with more efficient and creative service models. Additional funding should come from total BC tax base with additional Federal support. User pay, directly or indirectly, will not solve the problem. Smaller communities simply cannot support their present ferry service, nor can they survive without adequate service.
  1. Other comments: More visitors might be encouraged to come to Saturna if the following points are considered: Increased access from the mainland rather than via Swartz Bay would increase the likelihood of visitors because the majority of people live in the US and Canada on the mainland, and the journey takes too long via Vancouver Island to attract many people: Saturday’s timetable, the one day when it is possible to visit for a day, barely allows time to eat lunch before having to return to the ferry. Could the turnaround time be extended please?

Any other comments?

  1. Before jumping directly to reducing service and/or fare increases, proposals put on the table should be considered:

1. hub and spoke model where the hub could be Swartz Bay or one of the Gulf Islands (e.g. Mayne Island)

2. a short haul ferry between Mayne Island and Saturna Island

3. home porting at Saturna Island

If reductions are considered then the frequency of ferries should be considered. I come from the Vancouver side. I think it would be unfair to reduce the number of sailings with first reducing the number of sailing from Swartz Bay to Saturna Island.

Does Saltspring Island really justify three ferry docks?

If fares are increased, I will travel less. I will spend the same amount and BC Ferries will not solve anything. It will be worse. My children used to come to Saturna Island 3 to 4 times a year, now they come once per year. Cost is the major issue, but the timing of the sailings for a working family with school age children means that they arrive late Friday night and leave on the Sunday mid-afternoon ferry. Big cost, not much time on island.

I totally agree that all BC Ferries should be merged back into roads, inland ferries, etc. It may not solve all the funding issues, but at least we would be working within the same management structure and follow the same policies.

  1. Some new ideas/creative solutions are needed: e.g. docking ferries at the islands, incl. Saturna, to eliminate unnecessary runs; simplifying routes; spinning off the Gulf Islands ferries and bringing them under the Ministry of Transportation; competition from private vendors.
  1. How does the uncertainty of ferry issues affect your business? We are finding our customers are looking at more accessible islands for their holidays.
  1. Business has been severely affected in a negative way by the rising ferry fares.
  2. Yes - it limits my ability to see clients on their schedule - hence my increased use of the seaplane.
  1. Though I'm not directly or immediately affected I see the effect on others. Ferries should be subsidised like our highways and bridges.
  1. ? Might consider fewer trips – staying in town more.
  1. Gives me fears our Saturna property values will decrease.
  1. Any other comments? I would like our ferry service to be treated the same as the BC highways, as the ferry is our highway to Saturna!
  1. I would suggest that if a political decision is made to continue to discriminate against ferry-dependent coastal communities, then the party making that decision will have to justify its transportation policy of "user-pay" for coastal ferries and "user-be-increasingly-subsidized" for inland ferries, provincial road networks and province-wide transit systems.
  1. A) Eliminate deadheading ferries by re-instating overnight moorage at Saturna. B) Eliminate two of the three terminals on Salt Spring. C) Put toll booths up at the free Interior ferries. D) Eliminate the Tsawwassen to Duke Point route.
  1. I can`t for the life of me understand why the Experience card isn`t available from Tsawwassen to Saturna.
  1. Any other comments? From Saturna there are no other choices but ferries for travelling to medical appointments, lab tests, some shopping needs, banking, business dealings. Ferries are our road networks. Prices need to be reasonable and schedules need to work for travel to and from those essential services.
  1. A fast foot passenger boat would surely be a viable more EFFICIENT option for getting people to and fro. Lasqueti island has such a boat as the only ferry. That option would certainly have a drastic effect on Saturna but if some of the times were replaced by such a boat so that one could, perhaps drive off island at 6:30 am then return late at night with a vehicle but on foot travel as frequently as now surely that would be doable and such a boat can be much smaller, and cost far less to run for fuel not to mention be filled more readily due to its size. Since the Lasqueti boat is operated privately for an island with a comparable population to Saturna alone the concept must make financial sense.
  1. BC Ferries is our highway & should be funded through Min. of Transportation accordingly.
    Other forms of transportation and highways and roads in BC are subsidized 79% to 100%, why are we only subsidized only 25 %?
    Ferries must drop their cruise ship mentality and go to dependable, rugged, fast ferries like the Mayne Queen with minimal frills.
    BC Ferries needs to cut severely upper management and all its upper management facilities. Management offices should be in the ferry terminals not on the Victoria waterfront.
    Ferries should look at home porting to stop deadhead runs taking the ferry to work and bringing it home again. The Mayne Island option needs to be looked at seriously.
    Ferries could gain significant revenue by managing commercial properties in the main terminals and renting it out.

Escalating ferry fares are severely affecting the value of property in the gulf islands, reducing tax revenues significantly and it will get worse.
The government should immediately take over BC Ferries, drop the fares, and advertise aggressively to undo the harm that has been done to the gulf islands.

How does the uncertainty of ferry issues affect your business?

  1. In addition to owning a house on Saturna Island, we operate a winery and vineyard with four permanent employees and eight seasonal employees. Costs associated with the ferry travel affects these employees. Costs and lack of service affect customers coming to the Island to visit the winery.

Any other comments?

  1. It is very difficult to operate a business on Saturna Island due to its location. Sporadic and expensive ferry services exacerbate the problems associated with movement of guests, workers and produce.

Does the uncertainty of ferry issues cause you to consider selling your Saturna property?

  1. No, although I purchased my property a few years ago from long-time residents who said the increase in ferry fares was a major factor in their decision to sell.
  1. Are your trips primarily for business/commercial reasons?

The ``business`` of family is greatly affected by the costs of ferry travel. Our family is all in the Lower Mainland, and so the ability to travel to them and for them to come to us is of primary importance. At this stage at least two of our children and their families have difficulty visiting on Saturna, considering the ferry costs, and the need to travel with a vehicle because of young children. Needless to say, we currently subsidise their ferry travel. When we first came to Saturna, this was not an issue.