B.C. to bail out provincial ferry

VICTORIA, B.C. – British Columbia will sell three of its so-called “fast ferries” that have been plagued with mechanical problems and couldn’t carry trucks, as part of a financial bailout of the system worth more than $1.1 billion.

Still, the abandonment of the vessels is only a portion of the plan meant to protect the lifeline between the mainland and Vancouver Island. Not only will the province wipe out BC Ferries’ debt of more than $1 billion, but it has promised an annual subsidy culled from 1-1/4 cents from every litre of motor fuel, and will write down the PacifiCats by $240 million now that they’re up for sale.

“This financial plan is the best solution to provide for economic stability over the long term for coastal communities,” said Finance Minister Paul Ramsey. “The time has come to put BC Ferries on a sound financial footing and let the corporation get on with the job of managing our essential ferry system…The fast-ferry project was a failed experiment, and now we need to move on.”

The trucking community is also happy to have commercial service restored to routes serving the Lower Mainland.

“We’ve certainly wanted commercial vehicles serviced from the Lower Mainland at both terminals,” says Louise Yako of the British Columbia Trucking Association. “It’s just unfortunate we had to get to this financial situation before something was done.” n

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