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

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Motor vehicle incident on Mount Washington road involving a motorcycle

Emergency personnel were called out to the scene of a motor vehicle… Continue reading

Bylaw rescinded after vacation rental owners express concerns

Concerns included a lack of consultation

Get ready for a week of sunshine across Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures in the high teens all this week

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Vancouver Island designated as foreign trade zone

Designation simplifies importing and exporting and provides duty relief

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

Most Read