The B.C. Liberals’ Vancouver Island platform includes promises to give customers in ferry-dependent communities a break on fares and improve wireless Internet service at terminals and on board the vessels.
A full platform for the May 9 election will be released Monday. It includes a promise to work with B.C. Ferries to develop a frequent user/loyalty program. There are no details about how it would work, but a leaked portion of the platform said everyone in ferry-dependent communities would be eligible for a break on fares.
Until the program is devised, the party is committing to a new tax deduction for people who rely on ferries. Individuals would be able to deduct 25 per cent of the value of their fares — up to a maximum of $1,000, for a tax break of $250 — from their provincial income tax.
B.C. Ferries has an Experience Card that provides a benefit for regular users of the smaller routes and has been continually reviewing loyalty programs over the past few years.
The Liberals are also promising to commit $1 million to B.C. Ferries to improve Wi-Fi capacity and reliability.
B.C. Ferries said it gets regular complaints about the service. The problem is about handling the load when several thousand people try to get online using the Wi-Fi at the same time.
NDP ferry critic Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island, said the promises show how out of touch the Liberals are. The proposed fare breaks come after steady increases during the Liberals’ four terms in power that have more than doubled fares on most routes, she said.
The million-dollar Wi-Fi fix is a joke, she said, as the money would be better spent on cutting fares or improving the schedules. “They’ve just discovered the capital of B.C. is on an island.”
The Island platform comes as the Liberals focus attention here, determined to improve their poor standing. The party holds only two of the Island’s 14 ridings.
That intensified focus includes a half-hour infomercial to air on CHEK TV tonight at 6:30. It features vignettes of the 14 Island Liberal candidates introducing themselves and discussing issues. The party spent $12,000 to buy the airtime.
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