Fixing ferry fares: heavy lifting still ahead

27 MAY 2011 – The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) welcome the partial relief from escalating ferry fares announced this week by Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom.

But the drop from 8.23 to 4.15 percent in next year’s fare hike doesn’t touch recent increases, nor fix the fare problem in the long term. Neither will the new ferry review, unless it takes on the issue of public policy and government support for ferries.

“We applaud the fact that for the first time a minister has echoed the consistent call to address both affordability and sustainability, and that the commissioner will review this difficult balancing act,” says Tony Law of Hornby-Denman FAC. “But it isn’t enough to stop the damage to communities, ferry users or the ferry service itself.”

The partial rollback won’t feel like relief when people board a ferry this summer. Ferries will cost 17 percent more than they did last summer — what with the end of a fuel rebate, the addition of a fuel surcharge, and the annual fare increase that took effect last month.

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Decision time for ferry fares and service

02 SEPTEMBER 2010 –  Behind the scenes of this busy ferry travel weekend, work has started on a review of the contract between the provincial government and BC Ferries.

Every four years the Province decides on the level of service it wants to see provided (number of sailings per route), and how much it will pay for it (transportation fee).

The Ferry Advisory Chairs (FACC) are concerned that this current contract review faces a combination of factors that could lead to double-digit fares increases or service cuts, or both.

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Comptroller General urges Province to clarify goals for ferries

09 NOVEMBER 2009 –  Representatives for users of the non-major coastal ferry routes welcome recommendations from the Comptroller General that address concerns about the system’s public service mandate.

The recommendations are contained in a report released Friday on the Comptroller General’s review of BC Ferries and TransLink governance.

The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) say the review was a large task within a tight timeframe. Yet the Comptroller General made some substantive, excellent recommendations.

The most significant ones affirm the public service role of coastal ferry service. The report notes that this is one of the province’s objectives, yet it is not reflected in the governance framework the province created in 2003:

“The focus on the sustainability of the ferry operator(s), as articulated in the Act as a principle to guide the Commission, needs to be balanced with the interests of users of the ferry system, local communities and taxpayers.”

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