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BCTA unhappy with B.C. Ferries plan

LANGLEY, B.C. -- B.C. Ferries announced yesterday the Crown Corporation will be transformed into an independent ent...

LANGLEY, B.C. — B.C. Ferries announced yesterday the Crown Corporation will be transformed into an independent entity.

The newly independent company will be called B.C. Ferry Services but will maintain close ties with the province and be governed by the B.C. Ferry Authority.

Transportation Minister, Judith Reid, says the new-look B.C. Ferries will be modeled after the Vancouver Airport Authority.

“You’ve all been at Vancouver’s airport with its bistros and boutiques and cafes and cappuccino,” she says. “You need only to look that far to imagine what our ferry terminals will look like in the future.”

B.C. Ferries has squandered about $1 billion over the last decade, thanks to some poor business decisions.

“The option we have selected is the best solution,” Reid says. “It’s a new course. A steady course.”

The B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) feels differently.

While the association says the province is moving in the right direction, it’s voiced concern that the changes are not going to mean significant improvements for commercial users, whose primary concern isn’t always shopping at a boutique or grabbing a cup of cappuccino.

“The new governance model in the form of an Authority managing B.C. Ferries and an independent provincial regulator is good news,” says BCTA president, Paul Landry. “However, the message to the trucking industry is that it can expect more of the same from B.C. Ferries because of what the announcement didn’t say.”

The BCTA’s concerns come after it became clear the province wasn’t planning on following all the recommendations laid out in the government-commissioned Wright report. The report recommended reducing costs through contracting out food services, vessel repairs and maintenance and it called for the commercialization of services, open tendering and flexible work rules – none of which were included in yesterday’s announcement.

“As a major customer group of B.C. Ferries who use the service year-round, we want the service to be managed using sound business practices with a plan that is financially supportable,” says Landry. “This means rationalization of ferry rates to eliminate cross-subsidization and efforts to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”

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