Coastal ferry review a 'complete waste of time and money,' says Vancouver Island regional director

Why BC Ferries won't be going all-electric anytime soon

B.C. will launch a comprehensive review of its coastal ferry service in January 2018 to evaluate its performance in meeting the needs of ferry users and coastal communities, the province said Friday in a statement.

It also revealed the review will not look at bringing BC Ferries back into government.

Strathcona Regional District.director Jim Abram believes that's a mistake.

"I think what we're doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," said Abram who is a former president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities and a longtime advocate for B.C. ferry users.

He says a lot of the problems people are having with BC Ferries might not  exist if it were to be put back into a ministry.

"All of these things like parking, like fares, like WI-FI; these are all little bits and pieces of a poorly managed company, but if it was a government department, none of these things would be a problem," Abram toldBC Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.

Listen to the full interview with Jim Abram:

The province says ferry users and coastal communities have raised significant concerns relating to the affordability of the service, BC Ferries policies, and service levels. 

The review will seek to identify what improvements can be made to the existing model and to the Coastal Ferry Services Contract between the BC Ferry Corporation and the province of B.C.

B.C's transportation minister, Claire Trevena, clarified that fares will be separate from the review — which means plans to freeze fares on major routes starting in April and reduce fares on all minor routes by 15 per cent will still take place.

The review will also consider what changes to the price cap and regulatory model would be optimal, particularly for communities that depend on the ferry service.

The review is expected to cost about $250,000. The final report is expected in June.

With files from CBC Radio One's B.C. Almanac