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.
26 OCTOBER 2011 – The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) are telling the BC Ferry Commissioner that it is time for the ferry system to get back to basics. They want to see the Coastal Ferry Act amended to replace the existing six principles with one simple, customer-oriented principle: to provide a safe, reliable, affordable ferry service.
“Affordability means that fares should increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Instead, fare increases have been several times higher,” says Bill Cripps who chairs the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee. The FACC is recommending that government contributions be sufficiently increased in April 2012, to support a major roll-back in fares on the non-major routes.
30 NOVEMBER 2010 – The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) have prepared two reports, which they have asked government to consider in the current review of the coastal ferry contract:
• Ominous clouds
Summary of critical issues and data: fares and traffic, cost drivers, potential service reductions, and government funding analysis
• Community impacts of escalating ferry fares
Impact of fare escalation on families, workforce, economies, part-time residents and tourists. Includes examples from residents and businesses.
27 SEPTEMBER 2007 – Recent reports of ferry fare increases understate the actual impact on riders. When increases are applied to actual routes, fares will jump as high as 120% from the time the government restructured BC Ferries in 2003.
A range of figures has been reported recently. These are increases to fare caps, which apply to entire Route Groups. When the fare cap figures are applied to actual routes and current pre-paid ticket fares – the tickets used by the majority of coastal residents – the numbers show dramatically larger increases.
As an example, a parent and two children travelling from Alert Bay to Port Hardy for swimming lessons will pay 97% more in ferry costs in 2011, than they did in 2003.
• $15.52 in April 2003
• $22.90 currrently
• $30.60 in April 2011.
20 SEPTEMBER 2007 – Final fare figures from the BC Ferry Commission, released Tuesday, exceed preliminary figures released in March. Yet, representatives of ferry-dependent communities predict that even higher fares are likely.
Fare increases in the next four years will be determined by a formula, tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If the CPI remains at current levels, fares on smaller routes face the following increases:
• 4.4% in November ’07 (announced previously)
• 4% in April ’08 (up by 0.4% from preliminary figures released in March)
• 7.2% each year for three following years – if the CPI remains unchanged
(up by 0.5% per year from preliminary figures released in March.)
These latest make a total of 12 fare hikes since the restructured ferry system took effect in 2003, with a cumulative fare increase of 90%. The most likely factors to drive fares past that point will be rising fuel prices and the instability of the CPI.
16 SEPTEMBER 2007 – Recent reports of 25% hikes in BC Ferries’ fares are not the total picture of increases to come, according to representatives for ferry users.
Figures from BC Ferries President and CEO David Hahn don’t include increases set for November. Nor do they reflect the latest cost of fuel, and projections for future fuel costs.
The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC), who head 12 groups that provide public input into service for ferry-dependent communities, note that when all the factors are considered, ferry users face an average increase of at least 30%. They expect the hikes will be even higher, as a result of the inflation multiplier in the new fare formula.
With unprecedented increases in recent years, users of routes to ferry-dependent communities will be paying fare hikes of more than 80% from 2003 to 2011 fares.
03 MAY 2007 – The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) have presented the provincial government with a package of urgent proposals that they believe will help mitigate the serious situation facing users of 22 ferries routes to coastal communities in BC.
The FACC met with senior staff of the Transportation Ministry on Friday. The Ministry is in the process of deciding what it will contribute to ferry service for the second term of its service contract with BC Ferries (PT2). The Province must finalize its decision by June 30.
The FACC has identified these key issues for government: