Sunday, March 3, 2013

Don't pay the Ferryman, until he gets you to the other Side

So you must pay me now," 
"Don't do it!"
"You must pay me now," 
"Don't do it!"
And still that voice came from beyond,
"Whatever you do, Don't pay the ferryman,
Don't even fix a price, Don't pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side;
 Don't pay - the ferryman!"

-- Chris De Burgh, Don't Pay the Ferryman (From The Getaway) (1982)

Prince Rupert's Digby Island Airport Ferry, the transportation conduit between city and airport has through the years become a story all to itself.

Legendary among travel sites:

Trip Advisor
West Coast Ferries forum
Frommer's British Columbia

Bloggers and Website contributors:

Day trip to Prince Rupert Airport
My First moments in Prince Rupert
Airport Ferries

And even one or two YouTube vignettes.


. .

And now, as Prince Rupert City Council prepares to consider its Budgetary items for 2013, it shall once again be the subject of discussion at Monday's Special Session of City Council.

The Airport Ferry, or to be precise the cost of putting a private automobile on it for the crossing,  will be one of the topics as Council sits down to its Special Council Meeting, a session arranged mainly for the examination of budgetary items and such.

Added to the Agenda for Monday, Under the topic of Unfinished Business, the Prince Rupert Airport Authority has provided a letter  for Council to look over prior to the discussion ahead.

Among their concerns, the high cost of 45 dollars for private vehicle passage, recommending that it be reduced to a more user friendly 15 dollars.

In its correspondence the Authority also outlines some of the negatives of the current system, including the dilapidated bus services and an outdated ferry for transportation, offering up the cautionary warming that potential air travellers may begin to consider other airports like Terrace for the travel plans

You can review the letter from the City Council Agenda for Monday, (page two)

As we reviewed back in November, the nature of the city's first impressions on the travelling public, perhaps was best presented by a piece from the British Consul General for the UK, who provided a fascinating review for a Canadian based newspaper for British Expatriates. Highlighting some of the unique features of travel from Digby Island to the city's downtown core.

On the theme of transportation and first observations, the Consul General would seem to be on the same page as the Prince Rupert Airport Authority, suggesting that the current situation perhaps isn't quite providing the best of impressions to visitors, a theme shared by those bloggers above.

As for the request of the Airport Authority in its bid to have the rates reduced, as things exist at the moment, we're not sure that the idea of dropping the rates on the Ferry to tempt travellers to make the trip by car will be a workable solution, or would be helpful to the City's current balance sheet.

Even if the City dropped the rates to an amount that might generate traffic, we're not particularly inclined to think that the Airport Ferry would be able to handle any extra traffic generated, nor the City able to absorb the increased cost to transit a large volume of private vehicles back and forth.

Beyond what would surely mean an increase in the cost of fuel for the City that might come from even more frequent crossings (crossings at a reduced rate should the Airport Authority be successful), there would seem to be the need for would be travellers to have to closely mark their schedules, so as not miss the flight they would wish to catch.

We imagine that could raise some serious concerns for those left behind, as a full ferry departed leaving them to wait out the cycle before making their trek to the airport, nervously glancing at their watches and the possible danger of missing a flight.

Clearly for many, the current transportation system may not be the best that travellers might wish for, but short of a fixed link of some form to the airport, or a new dynamic in water based transportation, we suspect that the Digby Island Ferry and it's bus option will be the mode of travel for the foreseeable future.

Improving that transportation option as it is at the moment and enhancing the services at the airport itself and on the Prince Rupert side, may be of more benefit to the travelling public, than any surge in private automobiles and parking fees may provide back to the airport.

That cause, perhaps more than anything else may be a more realistic expectation and for the moment could best be listed under the topic of unfinished business.

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