Ferries should be free as part of our highway system

Make ferry use free then open all routes to private competition, says the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial.

Ferries should be free as part of our highway system.

Instead, we have a new mess as the floundering Crown corporation’s gold-plated managers struggle to stem a tide of red ink by cutting services, boosting rates, charging seniors, and even considering installing slot machines.

Ferries’ bosses are gambling something, anything, will eventually raise ridership on the service with no competition. Indeed, the corpulent corporation is a textbook example of why monopolies don’t work. We’ve seen it all before. Nothing really changes.

BC Ferries basically runs as a make-work project for its managers and unionized workers while we pay the freight. Sure, Ferries gets feedback from its owner taxpayers, rightly shaves services on low-use routes — then rearranges its budgetary deck chairs while working folks cringe at rising fares.

God help those living on a Gulf island where ferries are sadly critical to daily lifestyles.

But that’s a far different way of life from that of CEO Mike Corrigan. His total salary sinks to just $500,000 next year from $915,000 in 2012.

Given Ferries’ swashbuckling expenditures and swamped services, bonuses for Corrigan and crew should be history. In fact, why not just set most Ferries’ managers adrift to save money?

If Corrigan and his brass had answers about running what’s become a bureaucratic cruise line, they’d be using those ideas by now. Most folks should be bragging about how great Ferries’ service is, not mortgaging their home for a one-way ticket. Now we see another round of desperate guesswork at our expense.

Make Ferries use free, then open all routes to private competition before we must start kayaking or swimming to our destinations.

—Cowichan News Leader Pictorial