The following are the milestones (in reverse date order) in BC Ferries’ search for Alternative Service Providers (ASPs) on its routes.
|July 31, 2010||BC Ferries submits its Annual Report to the Commission for FY 2010|
|June 24, 2010||The province amends the Coastal Ferry Act ASP provisions. The Commission can now order BC Ferries to seek ASPs on any given route; BC Ferries must then provide its plan for the ASP search for the Commission’s approval and (if the Commission is satisfied that it proposes a fair and competitive process) report on its search; if BC Ferries does not promptly provide the ASP plan, the Commission can itself create a plan that BC Ferries must then follow.
Before the amendment, the Act required BC Ferries to provide the Commission with an ASP Plan for each performance term. An ASP Plan sets out how the company intends to seek ASPs to provide ferry services on BC Ferries’ 25 regulated routes.
|December 11, 2009||BC Ferries advises the Commissioner that while an assessment of the proposals received in response to the June 2009 RFP for service to Ocean Falls and Shearwater concluded that an ASP could provide the service on a more cost-effective basis than BC Ferries, the Province was not in a position to provide the authorization required under the Coastal Ferry Services Contract in order for BC Ferries to proceed. Accordingly, BC Ferries cancells this alternative service delivery initiative. BC Ferries continues to be the direct provider of service to these ports. Here is BC Ferries’ letter to the Commissioner on this matter.|
|June 12, 2009||BC Ferries issues a Request for Proposal (RFP) to identify prospective ASPs to provide ferry service to the mid-coast ports of Ocean Falls and Shearwater, with responses due by July 6, 2009. This initiative was supplemental to BC Ferries’ ASP Plan for Performance Term Two.|
|January 26, 2009||BC Ferries notifies the Commissioner that no respondent who expressed interest in providing ferry service on three of its routes numbered 23, 24 and 25 has elected to proceed to the next stage. BC Ferries continues to be the provider of service on these routes. Here is BC Ferries’ one-page letter on the matter.|
|August 14, 2008||BC Ferries issues a Request for Expressions of Interest for Alternative Service Delivery on three of its regulated routes:
BC Ferries will ask responders to this request to proceed to the next step in the ASP process – the Request for Proposal.
|June 19, 2008||BC Ferries informs the Commissioner of its decision to continue to operate the Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay route #12 and not to pursue a proposal by Western Pacific Marine, because of “superior value for money for reasons largely, but not exclusively, due to the level of service fee being proposed by the proponent.” Here is a two-page letter from BC Ferries to the Commissioner conveying this decision.|
|March 27, 2008||BC Ferries submits its ASP plan for performance term two (2008-2012). In it, BC Ferries reviews events of the first performance term (2003-2008) just ending, stating that:
BC Ferries goes on to state that in the second performance term, as time and resources permit, it would pursue alternative service delivery on one or both of:
|July 27, 2007||BC Ferries issues a report on its search to date. See the last section of BC Ferries’ Annual Report to the Commission for 2006/07.|
|February 5, 2007||BC Ferries issues a Request for Qualifications/Request for Proposals for the Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay Route (route 12), with responses due by June 15, 2007.|
|November 2, 2006||BC Ferries responds to the Commission’s direction of August as follows (abridged, emphases added):
|August 2006||In conjunction with its ruling that a newly built vessel for northern service is reasonably required, the Commission gave direction to BC Ferries as follows:
|July 2006||In the Commission’s Annual Report, the commissioner observes that the Act’s alternative service delivery clauses have yet to achieve their intended effect. He noted several challenges, lying partly in contradictions and practical implementation problems seemingly inherent in the regulatory model. Among them:
So far, the commissioner noted, remarkably few ASPs have shown sustained interest in providing service. Some may be deterred by challenges they see in the business model. To minimize its risks, BC Ferries has set the qualifying hurdles for ASPs understandably high.
The commissioner noted that BC Ferries has stated legitimate concerns about the risks and complexities entailed in engaging alternative service providers. He stated that the Commission has difficulty discerning whether and, if so, how much these concerns are amplified by an understandable reluctance to relinquish a significant portion of its in-house core operation.
|March 2006||The Commission agrees, with conditions, that BC Ferries could amend its approach to procuring ASPs as stated in this short Commission Memorandum to BC Ferries. The Commission concurred that, given what had been learned in previous months, the role of fairness auditor, as previously defined in the ASP Plan Supplement of August 2005, became redundant and the Chinese wall unnecessary.
The Commission stressed that external reviews will form an essential part of the process as sketched in the ASP Plan Update, so that the Commission can satisfy itself that selection criteria and evaluation are unbiased and not slanted towards BC Ferries. It also observed that BC Ferries may have closed the door too tightly on unsolicited proposals to operate its ferry routes.
|February 2006||BC Ferries writes an Alternative Service Providers Plan Update, which:
|August 2005||BC Ferries issues a 36-page Supplement to its Alternative Service Providers Plan of April 2004. This detailed the arrangements with ASPs, including what they would provide on each of the three clusters of routes planned to be tendered for operation in the first performance term, the timing of steps in the process and the constraints (contractual, legal and financial) to be observed. The supplement also outlines the procurement process steps, including the use of a Chinese wall within BC Ferries and a Fairness Auditor.|
|June 2005||The Commission hosts a one-day seminar with presentations from BC Ferries, marine labour unions, and other ferry operators in Vancouver BC to examine opportunities and challenges for those operators. Click there for proceedings of the seminar which includes information on what components of service (e.g. ships, crewing, marketing, etc), on which BC Ferries routes, and when, are to be opened for bidding by ferry operators.|
|May 2005||BC Ferries advertises for professionals interested in serving as Fairness Auditors. Click here for BC Ferries Request for Qualifications issued to potential fairness auditors.|
|November 2004||BC Ferries states that any other ferry operator seeking to have a subcontract to serve a BC Ferries route would have to meet or exceed the following criteria:
BC Ferries made it clear that it would defend its territory by bidding itself on all routes as an operator, competing against other companies interested in providing service. Yet BC Ferries would be the evaluator of all bids including its own, which creates an inherent conflict. BC Ferries therefore introduced the concepts of a Fairness Auditor and a Chinese Wall separating the bidding and evaluation functions within BC Ferries, to help ensure fair competition among ferry operators.
|March 2004||BC Ferries submits its Section 69 Plan for performance term one (2003-2008) identifying three clusters of routes as candidates for ASPs over the next four years. These include northern services and Powell River-Comox-Texada which will require new vessels, and Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay. The Commission asked BC Ferries to elaborate, which it did through a supplement dated July 2005 (see above).|