Transportation Minister Todd Stone continues to use numbers shown months ago to be incorrect, indicating the Minister simply cannot accept the economic reality he is responsible for creating. The only portfolio less suited to Stone’s abilities would be Education, as he clearly does not understand math.
In response to a study proving his errors have caused a loss of $3.9 million in tourism revenue and $870,000 in lost taxes, Minister Stone once again has trotted out fabrications and deception that were disproven as far back as April. The Minister is either willfully misleading or incompetent in his assertions.
Stone repeatedly talks about a $2500 per vehicle subsidy along Route 40, but these numbers are cherry-picked from 2012, a year when BC Ferries wrote off a lot of capital costs and debt service, one-time charges that temporarily tripled the shortfall. The average subsidy on Route 40 since 2003 is only $850 per vehicle, not the $2500 number Minister Stone quotes. That’s like quoting tourism numbers from 2010 without mentioning the Olympics.
He also suggests that his cuts have eliminated this subsidy. Except Stone did not eliminate Route 40, just the part of the route that was the most profitable, meaning that the most his cuts would have saved was $250 per vehicle, not $2500.
Minister Stone also claims the route “historically” loses over $7 million every year, but the numbers released in March 2014 (covering the summer 2013 season) showed a total loss of only $3.4 million including capital cost write-offs, less than half the amount Stone quotes today, and the actual loss from operations was only $2.6 million. These figures are in line with the five year average for the route, once again proving that he is cherry-picking inflated figures rather than revealing the real data.
The Minister asserts the route had a utilization rate of 25-30%, but the part of the route he eliminated had a utilization rate of 48%, in line with the average across the entire BC Ferries fleet. This means Stone’s cuts will actually result in worse utilization rates.
While Minister Stone thinks the subsidy is a major issue, Premier Christy Clark disagrees. As a talk show host, she said, “That’s the thing that I don’t get about the subsidy argument… why don’t they say that they’re subsidizing people who live in Whistler by the massive expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway?” Clark also knows ministers are hiding the full story when they talk about subsidies, asking, “Why don’t they do that – apply the same math to the highways that they build and then maintain – that they do to the ferry routes?”
In Minister Stone’s case, the answer is simple. He’s not applying the same math because he can’t make his own numbers add up.