Saturday, July 03, 2010

BC Ferries stays the course on Northern routes

 Commander Hahn has run up the white flag when it comes to the much discussed, but apparently equally disliked plan to create a new Tsawwassen to Port Hardy route, a move which would have reduced 10 sailings in the summer between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy.

The plan met with almost universal rejection from communities across Northern British Columiba who are dependent on the Northern service of BC Ferries to stream tourists and travellers into their communities, it was feared that any reduction of the number of sailings out of Prince Rupert would have a rather harsh effect on local economies.

Beyond the travel changes there were fears that staffing positions would be lost out of the Prince Rupert terminal, which would have been another economic blow to the region.

When it was in discussion mode the prospect of a Tsawwassen - Port Hardy route provided no shortage of concern from the North coast, so with the backlash rather clear, BC Ferries has apparently nodded in the direction of the local communities.

That early discussion phase found Chairman Hahn facing some angry Rupertites last fall when the Ferry corporation arrived in town to outline their vision, one which for many was more of a nightmare than an opportunity.

It was perhaps with some of that feedback still ringing in his ears that led the Chairman and the Ferry Service to put the plans on the shelf to gather some dust for the foreseeable future.

The Queen Charlotte Islands Observer appears to be the first with the details of the change of direction from BC Ferries,  posting a story on the Ferry System's change of mind on June 23rd.

No new Tsawwassen route for Ferries
Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

BC Ferries has given up on creating a new Tsawwassen-Port Hardy route.

Spokesperson Deborah Marshall said the company couldn't get the unanimous support of the northern communities.

 "We decided not to pursue Route 10A," she said of the plan to divert 10 return sailings between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert from summer traffic.

 The ferry makes 74 return trips between the two communities in the summer months and BC Ferries thought that opening some of the sailings to Tsawwassen in 2011 would boost the number of travellers on the northern route.

 But communities across the Northwest Transportation Corridor came out against the idea.

 "This reduction would undoubtedly have had a negative impact on the existing tourism traffic flow throughout the Northern Corridor," said Rupert's mayor Jack Mussallem in a letter to Queen Charlotte council.

 Mayor Carol Kulesha said at the June 7 council meeting that the idea was met with horror across the north and a special meeting was called in Terrace back in March.

 Ms Marshall said that without support of the communities, the idea was dropped. The fare for the new route would have been the same as for travel between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy and BC Ferries proposed offering a 25 percent discount to travellers who combined both legs of the journey.

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