31 MARCH 2014 – Ferry fares continue their relentless climb into regions of unaffordability, accompanied by repetitive rhetoric from the provincial government that is disconnected from acceptance, or even understanding, of the needs of BC’s coastal region.
With the fare increases taking effect on April 1 and fuel surcharges imposed in January, most passenger fares are up 8.4 percent and vehicle fares are up 7.4 percent over last year, yet another round of fare hikes far above inflation. And seniors now have to pay for travel from Monday to Thursday.
On those northern routes that will continue to operate, fares are up only 1.5 percent, but the fare break is too little, too late. On the northern route due for outright elimination, Route 40 serving the central coast, fares increased 60 percent and traffic dropped 43 percent in a straight line since 2007, under operating conditions that ran counter to local residents’ suggestions to improve the route’s efficiency. Now it’s considered unprofitable, and treated as unsalvageable, regardless of the damage that will result to local communities and BC’s tourism industry.
Ten years ago this month the BC government unveiled a brand new, not-quite-arms-length coastal ferry model. It promised jobs, economic development, modest fare increases and better service – all with no new public debt. The legislation included a move toward greater user pay, in order to reduce the Province’s contribution to coastal ferry service.
The model has failed to achieve its goals. This verdict is based on what we have been hearing for years from an overwhelming number of residents of the communities and users of the ferry routes we represent.
These points are a summary of views, framed by the government’s goals for the current model, followed by our recommendations.
01 AUGUST 2008 – The chairs of the coast’s 12 Ferry Advisory Committees (FACC) are asking Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon to meet with them at his earliest convenience to work on a strategy for the long-term sustainability of ferry service to their communities as substantial fuel surcharges hit many south coast routes.
Fares on B.C. Ferries’ smaller routes will increase by up to 21% when fuel surcharges go into effect today. Many of these fares have increased by over 100% in the last five years while inflation in B.C. has been only 2% per year.