Coastal Ferry Services Review - Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference:  Coastal Ferry Services Review

Introduction:

A mandate letter dated July 18, 2017 addressed to the Honourable Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, confirmed the government’s commitment to conduct a comprehensive operating review of the provision of coastal ferry services in British Columbia.

Background/Context:

Under the Coastal Ferry Act (CFA), a new model was created where BC Ferry Services Inc. is responsible for its operating policies and capital investment decisions and provides ferry services under a 60-year agreement with the Province called the Coastal Ferry Services Contract (CFSC).  The CFSC sets the minimum service levels (i.e., number of round trips and length of operating day) with changes negotiated between the Province and BC Ferries.  The Ferry Transportation Fees paid to BC Ferries are determined by the Province. An independent regulator, the Office of the BC Ferries Commissioner, regulates fares using price caps (i.e., caps maximum average fares) determined every four years.

Since the inception of the CFA, a number of reviews of BC Ferries have been undertaken with significant feedback provided through public consultations with stakeholders. The findings and recommendations of these reports led to changes to the Coastal Ferry Act including:  Bill 20 – Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (June 2010), Bill 14 - Coastal Ferry Amendment Act (June 2011), and Bill 47 - Coastal Ferry Amendment Act (May 2012).  Despite the changes to the CFA noted above, ferry users and coastal communities have raised significant concerns relating to the affordability of the service, BC Ferries policies, and service levels. 

Objective of the Review:

To prepare and submit a report to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for government’s consideration that:

  • Reviews the Coastal Ferry Services Contract and the provision of coastal ferry service in British Columbia to ensure that the model is operating in the public interest.  The reviewer will: 
    • examine BC Ferries’ operations, including operating and capital expenditures, business processes, practices and policies to assess whether the services are being provided for in a manner that supports the public interest in affordable fares;
    • consider what changes to the price cap and regulatory model would ensure the ferry system is working as efficiently and effectively as possible for all British Columbians, and in particular, ferry users and communities who depend on this essential service, and, 
    • identify opportunities and recommend actions to enhance ferry service delivery and/or reduce costs without impacting existing service.

In addressing these matters, the reviewer will:

  • review previous relevant studies and reports;
  • seek input from or interview the BC Ferries Commissioners, the BC Ferry Authority Board, the BC Ferries Board of Directors, BC Ferries’ senior staff, and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, and others as determined by the reviewer; and,
  • oversee and engage with technical experts who may be required and retained by the reviewer to conduct detailed studies, research and analysis (e.g., financial review including debt management), as deemed appropriate to support the review process.

Deliverables: A final report will be submitted to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure no later than June 30, 2018.