Travellers on the North Coast will feel the impact of cost cutting measures at BC Ferries, as the Skidegate-Prince Rupert run and Prince Rupert-Port Hardy route were both, part of a number of coastal runs highlighted for reductions today.
The Port Hardy- Prince Rupert route will see a reduction of 39 round trips, for 2014 a 32 per cent adjustment from the current schedule.
All of the changes will come into effect in April of 2014.
Details of the many changes ahead for BC Ferries users were released through this background piece from the Ministry of Transportation.
Below are the key aspects for the North Coast, regarding the breakdown of the cost cutting and anticipated savings from the announced changes today.
BC Ferries also announced a number of other measures designed to help assist their financial situation, among them a change for Seniors when it comes to travel on the ferry system.
The current free ride for Seniors ( a 100 percent discount which is offered Monday to Thursday on major and minor southern routes), pared back to a 50 percent discount for that same period of travel.
There will reportedly be no change to the 33 percent discount offered to seniors on the Northern routes.
The Ferry system will also consider the introduction of slot machines to some vessels, placing them in a secure and restricted area of the vessels, with a share of the potential revenues derived from them to be returned to the service.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone anticipates that today's cuts could save the Ferry System 19 million dollars. Overall, it's estimated that today's announcement accounts for an elimination of 8 per cent of all of BC Ferries sailings.
The major changes to the Ferry schedule come in part as the result of the findings of the BC Coastal Ferries Consultation and Engagement of the Fall of 2012, which we reviewed on the blog in March.
The cutbacks announced today, go against the advice that the BC Ferry Advisory Committee offered to the Provincial government. In October we outlined their concerns over what they called an "unnecessary crisis" regarding BC Ferries.
It's safe to assume that the nature of today's changes will most likely receive a sharp rebuke from that group as they review the listing of route change announcements made today.
Our past reviews of BC Ferries issues can be found here.
Some of the media review of today's decision can be found below.
CFTK-- Coastal Communities, NDP Decry Ferry Service Cuts
CFTK-- Ferry Cuts (video)
CBC Daybreak North-- First Nation in Bella Bella says ferry cuts will leave them isolated (audio)
Northern View-- North Coast Leaders react to BC Ferry Cuts
CBC.ca-- BC Ferries to cut service, seniors' discounts and test casinos
Victoria Times Colonist-- B. C. government announces cuts to minor ferry routes, no more free rides for seniors and maybe gambling
Victoria Times Colonist-- Ferry cuts disastrous for coastal communities, critics warn
Victoria Times Colonist-- Loss of free passes outrage seniors
Vancouver Sun-- Ferry riding seniors first in line for 'tough decisions'
Vancouver Sun- Gambling considered as revenue source on BC Ferries
Vancouver Province-- House always wins: BC Ferries gambling on slot machines as it cuts services, hikes fares
Vancouver Province-- 'Our Ferries are not riverboat casinos' NDP Critic says in blasting BC Ferries slot-machines proposal
Haida Gwaii Observer-- Ferry Cuts to Hit Haida Gwaii hard
Georgia Straight-- Slot machines coming to BC Ferries?