As BC Ferries works to find $30 million in costs to cut, Gulf Island residents say money is being wasted daily on half-empty sailings.

There are 32 trips per day between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island, which has a population of just 4,200 residents.

“I do think they could save money by reducing the number of trips,” Gabriola resident Pete Einarsen said.

Others say the ferry is often just a quarter full. And with BC Ferries already planning to cut 98 sailings on major routes after Thanksgiving weekend, many regular passengers accept the loss of some service is inevitable.

But some also have suggestions for alternative cost-cutting measures, such as limiting overtime or boosting ridership with promotional discounts. They suggest a program similar to Air Miles could be implemented so passengers could earn free trips after a number of paid sailings.

“We can actually increase tourism, bring people to the islands and fill their boats up,” said tour guide Nicky Fast. “If it wasn’t so expensive I’d be coming up here every weekend.”

BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan said the current ticketing system couldn’t handle such a promotion, but that it’s a possibility for the future.

“We have a fairly inflexible computer system-point of sale reservation system right now that doesn’t allow us to do a lot of that,” Corrigan told CTV News. “But we are building a new system that will give us the flexibility to do that.”

Local ferry watchdog the BC Coastal Transportation Society said the company can also save millions by slowing down the vessels -- though longer trips would mean more hours and possibly more overtime for employees.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger

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