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FERRIES: Privatizing hasn’t gone well in B.C.

Letter by Ellyn Turner, Nanaimo, B.C. on Feb. 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm with 32 Comments »
February 16, 2011 3:12 pm

I’m a former Tacoma resident now living in British Columbia. I keep up with Washington news through your newspaper and Seattle news stations.

The idea of privatizing the ferry system is not a good one. British Columbia did that a few years ago, and it is not working. Ask the average Vancouver Islander or resident of Lower Mainland, B.C., and they will tell you that we are now paying much more and getting far less service since it was privatized.

The only people happy with this system are the B.C. Ferries executives getting the huge salaries. Customer service and satisfaction are at an all-time low.

The beverage container deposit is a good idea. We have that here. it leads to much more recycling of these containers and cuts way down on discarded beverage containers littering the roadways. People can return them to the store or the many bottle depot recycling centers.

Leave a comment Comments → 32
  1. O’Canada is a socialist country, execs don’t get paid high salaries.

  2. nokoolaide says:

    But how do the tax paying citizens that don’t live on an island feel about it?

  3. nokoolaide says:

    The beverage deposit is a stupid idea. We have one of the best recycle programs in the country, and the beverage deposit will destroy it! Ellen, I’m afraid you have spent too much time in Canada.

  4. alindasue says:

    You might try doing a little research before voicing your opinion.

    It only took me a few seconds and Google to learn that as of 2009 the salary of BC Ferries CEO David Hahn is CAD$984, 248. That’s $968,844.52 in our dollars at the current exchange rate. That’s more than five times what Pierce Transit’s CEO makes!

  5. alindasue says:

    Given that BC’s capital city, Victoria, is on Vancouver Island, I’m sure they are all pretty upset about the high ferry costs. You can almost pay every Pierce Transit exec staff member for what just the CEO of BC Ferries is making.

    On top of that, I just read an Vancouver, BC area article where he was telling reporters that he expects ferry fares to increase another 16% – 100% (depending on service area) over the next four years on top of the high rates currently being charged. He does have to make a profit.

    Congratulations, Citizens of British Columbia! You’ve privatized your ferry system. Now try going to your capitol city to complain about it, if you can find enough money to do so.

  6. alindasue -if Roll_on did some research, he might learn what socialism actually was, and then he couldn’t post at all.

  7. olbluedoc says:

    I guess it all depends on how bad you want to get where you’re going. I just rode the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo and was shocked when it cost me almost $100 each way. Then again, if you don’t ride or don’t need it, you won’t feel the pain. Tough call. Unlike all the experts that jump in here daily, I don’t have the answer.

  8. why are people so ignorant about socialism?

  9. JudasEscargot says:

    ::::::::puts some ice on the bump on Roll_On’s forehead::::::

    That was a knockout punch, alindasue!

    Nice right cross on nokoolaid also.

    Both must have been knockouts because it sure got quiet on that side of the forum.

    If “we have one of the best recycling programs”, someone hasn’t crossed the border to Oregon. You don’t find containers on the roadside. They are worth money.

  10. scott0962 says:

    I think the author overlooked one group that’s satisfied with Canada’s private ferry service: all the people who don’t use it and aren’t being taxed to pay for it.

  11. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Right on, scotto, privatize and make the users pay. We on the mainland are tired of subsidising Vashon water front owners. Pay uo people, and don’t complain with a lifestyle free of the “rest of us”.

  12. JudasEscargot says:

    While visiting a friend for dinner on Vashon, I got the privilege of paying $25 for a round trip.


    When will the Cons quit whining about paying for services? They like to think that the only people forced to use ferries are those that LIVE on islands. No….others like to travel there, and then there are the companies that provide goods and serviced to island livers.

    What small minds.

    NoKool….as usual, you have it backwards. Ilindasue was pointing out those that need to visit Victoria for business as it is the capital of British Columbia.

  13. JudasEscargot says:

    Of course the ‘socialism” comment is still the winner of this thread.

  14. fbergford says:

    Rabble rabble rabble! WHo gives two cents what Canada is doing! If you don’t like living here get the hell out and I won’t have to read your stupid comments in my newspaper any more!

    Privatizing the ferries gives someone the chance of living the American Dream of starting their own company and getting rich! I know you liberals know nothing about that because you have no work ethic! You would rather tax tax tax spend that money on programs that DON’T work and have an over bloated government that keeps hiring on new employees that WE the TAX payer have to support!

    And when those programs don’t work and we try cutting them YOU liberals get all up in arms about “oh what are those people going to do when they don’t have a job anymore”…it’s called FINDING A NEW ONE or starting your own business! Why not try to live the American Dream or is that too far fetched for you to comprehend because you have been depending on the government for everything in your life!

    It’s going to be comical to see what you libs are going to say!

  15. mrenchirito says:

    Someone declaring “victory” on a newspaper comment thread again? Sure sign of an insecure, petty, and obnoxious person.

  16. JudasEscargot says:


    Nice try, but Roll_On’s “socialism” comment still wins the funniest comment of the day….week….month….maybe forever

    I have to admit your assertion of someone ponying up the capital to start a company to privatize the Washington State Ferries is quite entertaining, but I think Mr. Gates retired.

    Why don’t you go down to the bank and see if you can float a loan to purchase the ferry system from WDOT. I’m sure they’d love to eliminate their problemchild.

  17. JudasEscargot says:


  18. JudasEscargot says:

    I really need to quit wasting perfectly good sarcasm on the intellectually stunted.

  19. fbergford says:

    hahahaha OOO Judas good one! “Intellectually stunted” how long did it take you to come up with that! I really don’t care to be honest! You really have no clue on how to raise capital do you…well do a little research, talk to some dudes and you may be on your way! While you are doing that, do a little history project on this dude named Henry Foss..you may have heard of him, there is a high school named after him here in town, there are tons of tug boats sitting in the bay and at one time he owned ferries! But since you are self proclaimed intellectually smarter than I you already knew that. So why am I telling you this!? YOu already knew it! And I’m sure you already know how privatize the ferry system, run a business, know everything about local and foreign politics, know how to create a thriving business sector downtown, get out of this housing slump, and I can go on and on BUT I have to get back to my job serving our country so idiots like you can be really self involved in your own little world. Good day!

  20. JudasEscargot says:

    “fbergford says:
    February 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm
    hahahaha OOO Judas good one! “Intellectually stunted” how long did it take you to come up with that!”

    I believe a question mark at the end of your question would be more appropriate than an exclamation point. “Intellectually stunted” wasn’t directed at you, but if you feel it was…..well…….I won’t stop you.

    “BUT I have to get back to my job serving our country”

    I serve our country. My spouse serves our country. Do you think that makes you special?

  21. mrenchirito says:

    Judas serves our country? LOL! And how is that? By constantly belittling people that don’t agree with him? By posting endlessly on newspaper forums?

    Somehow I have the feeling that fbergford’s service and Judas’ “service” are not even in the same ballpark.

  22. alindasue says:

    For the record, everybody, my given name is “Alinda Sue” – or just plain “Alinda”. I was named after my parents, Al and Linda.

    JudasEscargot, you are correct. I was referring to those people who have to go to Victoria because it is the capitol of British Columbia. Why they chose to place their capitol on an island is another issue. What matters here is that the capitol city is now all but inaccessable to the average citizen due to the exhorbitant cost of getting there. I can only imagine the effect it’s having on tourism!

    Here, we are dealing with another issue. Some of the most used ferry runs – Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, and Whidby Island are all accessable by road. It would take them considerably longer to go from Seattle to home(maybe as much as three hours each way) but as you guys point out, they chose to live there.

    The problem for the rest of us is that aside from the ferry, there are only two ways to get the penninsula. Both ways funnel traffic right through Tacoma. If you think the back up on I-5 from Hwy 16 gets bad now, imagine if the ferries became too expensive for regular commute. There’s a lot of people living on the penninsula now. All those people commuting daily between the penninsula and all points north of here would mean that we’d have to double the size of our freeways. Add summer tourist traffic heading to Olympic National Park, Forks, and other points on the penninsula and you have a real mess!

    The tax money WSDOT now spends running the ferries would be now be spent on massive construction costs and gridlock. We’d all be going nowhere fast and spending lots of money to do it. If they rose the bridge toll enough to truly cover the added cost, then people would drive around through Olympia. The effect would be the same: gridlock through Tacoma.

    Our tax dollars paying for the ferries benefit all of us… and the state gets to keep the boarding fares rather than the money going to some overcharging private company.

  23. alindasue says:

    As fbergford points out, there has been privately run ferry service in the Puget Sound before. The Mosquito Fleet was a group of privately run ferry companies that took people between all the ports for the first few decades of the 20th century. Most were absorbed into two companies. One went out of business in 1935; the other ceased running in the late 40s. Our current system was started in 1951 when Washington Toll Bridge Authority (now WSF) bought boats and facilities from that last defunct company.

    There are a few mosquito fleet type passenger ferrylines now, but from what I can tell they are all run by county governments: Pierce, Kitsap, and King counties. I tried to look up the proposals for a privatized system in our region, but I couldn’t find any that didn’t involved subsidies from tax payers. We’ve already got enough “private” enterprises like that running the twin stadiums in Seattle.

    For all the talk of how badly run WSF is, they manage to cover around 65% of their expenses just from fares. That actually makes them one of the least subsidized transit systems in the area.

  24. JE, since I won, where do I go to get my prize?


  25. JudasEscargot says:


    You know exactly how I serve my country. You know everything I do because you are obsessed with my every

    One need not be a part of the military to serve his or her country. Of course, there are plenty in the military whose job is polishing a chair with their keester, which is my guess about fberg. I’ve met hundreds of military people and those who are the most humble are the ones that put up the most risk.

  26. JudasEscargot says:

    AlindaSue – thanks for your comments. You are a breath of fresh air. Well researched and to the point of the subject.

    Roll_On – your prize is wenchito. You were made for each other. Maybe she’d get over her obsession with me if you two could hook up.

  27. JudasEscargot says:


    The naysayers forget about the number of tourist dollars that hit Washington State because of the ferry systems. I was recently working in Silverdale and was talking to a gentleman at the hotel. He was asking me about the ferry route to Seattle. He was taking his family there for a day of shopping and other tourist activities. None of that money gets paid into WDOT but without the ferries, where would much of the Seattle waterfront be? How many people would drive to Winslow? Downtown Bremerton is boiling over with new business that caters to tourists.

    Of course, these are the same people that would complain about anything if you use the word “tax” as part of the explanation.

  28. JudasEscargot says:

    wenchito – what do you do, aside from stalk me?

  29. Alindasue — Uh oh. I think Judas likes you. Not sure what that means, since he’s never been nice to anyone before. Be careful, just in case.

    Oddly enough, there is another Alinda Sue in GH about your age, who sounds quite a bit like you. I thought you were one and the same, but the number of kids and ages don’t match up.

  30. mrenchirito says:

    I didn’t know that posting on a public website means you are a stalker, interesting views you have.

    I actually operate a very successful website. One that has won numerous awards and averages over 500 page views a day. That comes out to more than 182,000 a year. I know some sites that have been up for years and are now just hitting the 25,000 mark. I am also active in the community and give of my time to help others and causes I support. Thank you for your interest, now I’m sure there will be some snide remark to follow.

  31. Shattah206 says:

    *yawn* take it outside, you two.

  32. JudasEscargot says:

    I guess someone didn’t like my tin cup comparison.

    So much for the anti-nanny stance.

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