A suggestion has been spreading throughout the Coast that residents should boycott the ferries. This would convey our outrage against fare hikes and schedule changes, but a boycott would be impossible for many of us. Although we were drawn to the Coast by its beauty, we have been unable to quit our jobs in Vancouver. We are forced to take the ferries to work, but we could boycott something else to make a statement.

Let’s boycott the services on the ferry: the gift shop, the Coastal Cafe and the cafeteria.

Back in the 1970s when I first came to this province, the B.C. ferries offered simple amenities. The cafeteria was basic and inexpensive, like on today’s low-cost Washington State ferries or the ferry that runs from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island. Since then the B.C. government gentrified the ferry system on the theory that attracting tourists would help pay the bills. It hasn’t, so isn’t it clear that the ferries have been cruising down the wrong channel?

Neither the Washington nor Nova Scotia-PEI ferries with their low fares, rustic boats, and plain cafeterias have a problem attracting the travelling crowd. For that matter, the Staten Island Ferry in New York City, with its 25-minute run between Manhattan and Staten Island and its plain-Jane hot dog stand, is free. That’s an enormous decrease from the original 12-1/2-cent fare that was charged in 1816. The Big Apple surely knows how to attract tourists.

Rides on the Staten Island Ferry are free.
Rides on the Staten Island Ferry are free.

But the situation is different in British Columbia. Since trendy, tourism-focused amenities have failed to to generate a profit, the ferries need locals to prop up their bottom line. So in protest, let’s do that as little as we can. Let’s ride the ferries, since we must, but instead of spending money on board, let’s pack our own sandwich and coffee mug. The business-focused government may continue to ignore us, but it would surely listen to White Spot.