Latest BC Ferry fare hikes causing concern

The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) are concerned that fare hikes are double the inflation rate.

Representatives of coastal ferry users say new ferry fare hikes announced Monday raise questions about the effectiveness of government response to the ferry affordability gap.

The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) are concerned that fare hikes are double the inflation rate.

“Fares will continue to grow much faster than people’s incomes unless government faces the causes of the affordability crisis,” says Tony Law of the Hornby-Denman FAC.

In January, a BC Ferry Commission study found that ferry fares were then at the tipping point of affordability, and causing hardship in coastal communities. Since then:

• Current fares are at the tipping point + 4.15 per cent;

• Next year those fares will have another 4.1-per-cent increase;

• The following two years will see two more increases, 4.0 and 3.9 per cent;

• Existing fuel surcharges continue on top of that, and will change with future fuel prices.

The ferry commission calculates fare increases based on numbers from BC Ferries and government. Key numbers come from government’s response to the commission affordability report:

• $33 million in new government contribution to BC Ferries over the next three years;

• $74 million in cuts over the next three years — $30 million in service cuts, $15 million in new BC Ferries efficiencies, and $29 million remaining of previously agreed-upon efficiencies of $9.8 million per year.

The new money aims to help BC Ferries maintain a good bond rating and reduce upward pressure on fares. Without it, fare hikes would have been a few percentage points higher.

The effect of the cuts on future fares and traffic is harder to assess. The FACCs are concerned that service cuts — unless they’re done very carefully and with ideas from communities — could aggravate the downward spiral in traffic and upward spiral in fares.

“Both spirals are the kiss of death to dozens of coastal communities,” says Brian Hollingshead of the Southern Gulf Islands FAC. “More than anything, we need a public policy approach that aims to sustain our communities, stem the damage from high fares, and grow our potential.”

The heart of such policy is sound public infrastructure, recognizing that ferry service is part of BC’s core infrastructure. The FACCs believes this requires government to bear a greater share of the escalating costs that are causing escalating fares:

• Fuel prices;

• Revenue shortfalls from falling traffic;

• Overdue and urgent need to replace very old ships and docks.

Public infrastructure costs money, and ferries are public infrastructure. They’re public access to the whole coast, serving dozens of communities, hundreds of kilometres of coastline, close to nine million vehicles and more than 20 million passengers a year, from all over B.C. and beyond.

The BC Ferry Commission ruling allowing fare increases of about four per cent for each of the next three years can be found at: www.bcferrycommission.com/reports-press/whats-new/final-price-cap-decision-released.

— Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs

Just Posted

Island Health announces addition of 38 beds for seniors care in the Comox Valley

17 beds at Comox Valley hospital; 21 beds at St. Joe’s

VIDEO: North Island Hospital heliport flight testing

Island Health, in conjunction with Helijet, tested the heliports Tuesday as part… Continue reading

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Change of command at HMCS Quadra

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt.-Col.) Allan Dengis assumed command of HMCS Quadra in a… Continue reading

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Comox resident refuses to turn his back on his Nicaraguan community

Sean MacKinnon and his partner are hoping to raise funds through a beer and yoga fundraiser Friday

Trade tokens a new form of currency on Hornby Island

Jim Bulmer hopes his tokens will turn a profit for the community

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

Most Read