Cuts to ferry routes have resulted in less traffic: committee

Ferry traffic watchers are seeing what they expected as routes are cut and service declines, according to Ferry Advisory Committees’ Chair Brian Hollingshead. Ferry traffic figures show that use is up and down, he said in his recently-released November report.

"System traffic for the month is down 0.29 per cent for passengers, 0.33 per cent for vehicles with major routes slightly positive and minor routes down significantly," he said.

A longer look shows the downward trend of previous months reappearing in November, he said.

"It’s not jumping off the cliff, but continuing downward from the bump in 2012."

Hollingshead pointed out that looking at the year to date vehicle traffic changes by route "reinforces the point that some of the most substantial and sustained traffic losses have occurred and continue to occur on the routes that suffered the more painful

cuts, despite warnings of the probable outcome."

In southern waters, the Gabriola to Nanaimo run is the worst hit.

"While operating expenses may have been reduced on these routes as a result of the service cuts, it is highly likely that the revenue losses have far exceeded the savings. There are some routes where no amount of fiddling with the schedules can stretch the reduced service to meet the needs of the communities," Hollingshead said. The measure of lost traffic on the central coast where a route was abruptly eliminated, and the impact on the community, "has been well documented," he added.