US experience shows privatising ferries a costly exercise
Passengers on privatised ferries in British Colombia (BC) have seen prices soar as private companies have raised fares on the recently privatised vessels.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith, Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Garrett, and Sydney Ferry Shop Committee delegates Steve Staines and Billy Long are in Seattle this week for the ILWU Inlandboatmen's Union's National Convention.
Today they met with a delegation of British Colombia Ferry and Marine Workers Union officials.
"The hot topic of discussion centred on privatisation as the ferries in British Colombia (Canada) have recently been privatised," said Warren Smith.
"The experience of privatised ferries in British Colombia is clearly a negative experience for the public. Prices have risen and it seems that service cuts are imminent," he said. "Private enterprise is gouging the public purse to maintain a profit out of the formerly publicly run system."
The private operators in BC are also advocating minimum crewing levels on the ferries. This sort of practice would be very negative for the Sydney public.
"The Sydney Branch delegation has heard repeated examples from the workers at BC Ferries that clearly demonstrate privatisation will diminish ferry services," said Assistant Sydney Branch Secretary Paul Garrett. "It was clear that in Canada, when the ferry services were privatised, less profitable routes were slashed."
The British Colombia Ferry and Marine Workers Union have noted that with every increase in prices there is a corresponding drop off in tourist patronage.
Clearly ferries and public transport should be maintained in public hands.
Photo (left to right): Brett Joyce, Kevin Hall, Billy Long, Steve Staines, and Richard Goodee