No sooner had the feds announced they were investing $58 million over two years to support ferry services between Saint John, NB, and Digby, NS; between Wood Islands, PEI and Caribou, NS; and between Iles-de-la-Madeleine, QC and Souris, PEI; than I got an email asking for my opinion. Why should the government bail out these money losing ferry services?
If you search this blog you will find a number of posts over the years discussing my views on this subject. The government spends hundreds of millions each year on roads but then many bureaucrats and pundits chafe at the idea of investing in other types of transportation infrastructure such as ferries, airports and even rail infrastructure. Those, it seems, must be self-funded. If there is no ‘market’ for the service, government shouldn’t ‘bail’ them out.
I believe we need to have a strategic view of our transportation infrastructure and invest accordingly.
As I have said I am not opposed to tolls on the highways but these tolls never come close to raising enough money to fund the infrastructure.
The reality that government spends 97% (made up number but I’ll bet its close) of its transportation infrastructure on roads should be a red flag. Air travel is key to successful modern economies. Rail transportation can be very important to certain industries. Ferries – where there is a clearly demonstrated need – are also important.