I got a rip snortin’ deal on Groupon for a two-night stay at the Mayne Island Resort. Now I’m trying to get there and BC Ferries is not making it easy for me. I’m going mid-week and my options for a direct sailing are 10:10 in the morning or 7:20 at night. Alternatively, I could go through Swartz Bay and add considerably to my travel time. Then there’s the return. If I arrive mid-day on say a Wednesday, it would be nice to have a full 48 hours, leaving around noon on a Friday. But no, if I want to do that, again I have to go through Swartz Bay. Otherwise I leave at 7:45 a.m. or 4:55 p.m., cutting my two-day holiday short or ensuring I get home very late at night. And this schedule is what is currently on offer, imagine the convenience when the route cuts just announced by BC Ferries take effect.
As a tourist from the mainland, travelling in the off-season, I’m frustrated by the lack of service, but as a Mayne Island resident, I would be incensed to be dismissed as a “minor route.” It is neither fair nor right to close off what is their main line, in essence the principal highway. Ironically, in an effort to become more financially sustainable, BC Ferries appears to be pricing themselves right out of existence. I can only afford to travel by ferry as a walk on passenger.
There is one way to inject cash into the debt-ridden crown corporation, although it’s a gamble, literally; BC Ferries is looking at installing slot machines on the main routes. With their penchant for marginalizing minorities, they likely won’t pay attention to these statistics from a 2008 BC Problem Gambling Study conducted by Ipsos Reid and Gemini Research for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Both “problem gambling (9.6%) and at risk gambling (15.8%) are higher among unemployed British Columbians. The estimate of at risk gambling is higher for British Columbians in the lowest household income segment (12.1% among <$30K).” Problem gambling is also strongly associated with certain gambling activities, like, you guessed it, slot machines (25.2%).
Then again, the poor and the unemployed likely aren’t riding the ferries. So bilking them to line the ferry coffers may not be a smart strategy after all.