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Comment: Schedules work against Gulf Islands ferry users

This is a transport system where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.
A B.C. Ferries vessel sails near Mayne Island, one of the Southern Gulf Islands. TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by a frequent ferry user who lives on the Gulf Islands.

I wish B.C. Ferries would start to understand that West Coast ferry users are not all the same; many of us don’t do ferries as a recreational activity, we do it because we live within the ferries service area.

I am often travelling for farm supplies from my Gulf Island location, and some trips I’m taking six ferries in a day, to get to the Lower Mainland and then back. +I can’t afford the risk of using reservations, as my whole day relies on using a system that is often not reliable and often not on time.

One ferry late by 30 minutes, a ­breakdown, or an overload at one of the six ferries, and I will be sleeping in my ­vehicle overnight.

And if I reserved the reservable ferries (good luck even getting a reservation on some routes), I would be out not only sleep, but cash.

One ferry on my route has slowed so much that the connection to the next ferry is now stressed; what used to be a tidy 15 minutes ahead of cut off for departure is now “the gate closes behind me,” and that’s when the highway is in good shape.

This is a transport system where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, there is no allowance for those of us who live on the islands or areas service is being provided to.

More and more ferries is feeling like a rich person’s playground. Decisions are made by managers without asking the locals, the ferry advisory committees are sometimes run by people who are out of touch with the islands they are supposed to represent, and in some cases by people not even living on the island.

B.C. Ferries can do better. Much better, if they desire. But that would mean listening to local crews and local citizens to understand the needs of the islands and areas they serve.

The runs providing the best service are likely breaking rules to do it — such as waiting for late boats — and maybe the whole scheduling system needs an overhaul, not from a budget crunching perspective, but from a locals perspective.

Also, if the schedules aligned better, more local people would travel more often, paying more fares. Those of us travelling many ferries in a day use many of the lesser-used runs at the start and end of our trips.

And as an aside, a quick look at the Amazon packages at a local mail station will tell you that people are shopping in, instead of shopping out.

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