Bad news for Vancouver Island residents and visitors – B.C. Ferries’ fares will increase over the next few years.
B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee says B.C. Ferries’ fares will increase by 4.1 percent in 2013, followed by a four percent increase in 2014, and a 3.9 percent increase in 2015. The price cap determines the maximum permitted weighted average fares for all route groups.
Macatee is responsible for setting and enforcing the fare cap, which permits fares to increase and decrease depending on fuel costs.
Independent regulator for the ferry service also approved a target aimed at B.C. Ferries to find more than $54 million in efficiencies, including service cuts.
The Coastal Ferry Act, passed by the Liberal government last spring, provides B.C. Ferries with $80 million to keep fares in check; however, the legislation seeks $30 million in service cuts.
Transportation Minister Mary Polak says she’s worried increasing fares will result in decreasing ridership and even more service cuts.
“We share that concern with the ferry commissioner and it is the reason that we will be involved in significant consultation with the public as B.C. Ferries now seeks to adjust their route service to save additional funds,” says Polak.
“We can’t afford to have ferries travel empty or travel with fewer passengers than staff on the ship. So we are going to have to wrestle with those challenges.”
B.C. Ferries has already eliminated 98 round trip sailings on its major routes between now and March.
B.C. Ferries’ year-end financial report included losses of over $16 million. Vehicle traffic was at a 13-year low and BC Ferries counted the fewest number of passengers in 21 years. The corporation blames rising fuel costs, and a steep decline in vehicle and passenger trips linked to a drop in tourism.
Image credit: BC Ferries