‘A lost transit opportunity’
What appears to be an article in the Times Colonist is uncreditted, and reads like a letter to the editor from an all ill informed reader. A journalist writing such a story would at the very least pick up a phone and call Translink’s press office. There is no express service from the Ferry to Vancouver because of a long standing agreement with Pacific Coach Lines. They operate the coach service between Victoria and Vancouver which gets carried on the ferry. This service is commercial so fares are higher than transit as there is no subsidy. People are prepared to pay more for the greater speed and convenience. Translink (and its predecessor BC Transit) agreed not to run direct bus services between the ferry and downtown as that would abstract PCL’s traffic. Using public funds to compete head to head with private companies is not allowed. The existing #620 is a distinct improvement over the old #640 – which required Vancouver bound passengers to change at Ladner (although you could still do that and get a #601) but most people currently ride all the way to “Airport Station” and change there for the #98 B-Line or the #424 to the airport itself.
Increasing ferry fares have had the effect of encouraging walk on passengers, with a considerable rise in the number if drop offs and pick ups at the terminal in private cars (“Kiss and Ride” in US transit parlance) but also of transit use. BC Transit does offer express service to downtown Victoria from Swartz Bay – quite why they are not covered by the PCL non-compete agreement I do not know. CMBC has on occasions put on express services when loadings were exceptionally heavy – presumably when PCL was overloaded too.
There is also the argument that transit subsidies are not intended for inter city travel, but solely for travel within the transit operation’s boundary. Cross boundary services with neighbouring operations were always regarded with caution. After all, Greyhound gets no subsidy for its operations – which is why fares to so many small places within BC are so high. If we actually cared about greenhouse gas emissions more than private sector profits then these policies might be reviewed – but don’t hold your breath on that one either.