PT4 Fares, Economies and Sustainability

The Fare Cap

MAY 21, 2015 – The Ferry Advisory Committee chairs were pleased, and surprised, with the announcement of the 1.9% preliminary fare cap. Surprised, because with a nominal 2% inflationary increase in expenses, and the substantial capital program, we were expecting a much higher cap. Given the ground rules – existing service levels and assumed continuance of FY2016 service fee – we realize getting to a 1.9% fare cap was a major achievement. Any further reduction that might be considered between April and June would require additional accommodation.

Sustainability

Sustainability, the term, is borrowed from environmental science referring to ‘endurance of systems and processes’. We hear it referred to in terms of sustainability of the coastal ferry service, as if BC Ferries is in danger of no longer ‘enduring’. This seems to us like wondering if UBC or BC Transit or VGH or the Coquihalla Highway will ‘endure’. In fact, we believe that all four of those, as well as BC Ferries, will (and must) endure, hopefully in good health. That good health will depend primarily on adequate funding from governments and ‘customers’. All five are vital elements of the broad community infrastructure. The demise of any is inconceivable.

We are more concerned with the economic sustainability of the ferry-dependent communities served by the Minor and Northern routes, and Route 3. The ferry service is the economic life-line for these communities.

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Ferry cuts: The sweet spot

REVISED: See bold in table in this post and in background link.

5 DECEMBER 2013 – While the Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs have not yet succeeded in figuring out how the provincial government’s ferry cuts will safeguard the coastal ferry system, they do think they’ve found the sweet spot for the least painful possible service cuts.

“If the government’s goal is to find the biggest savings for the smallest traffic loss and least hardship, then we suggest it looks harder at the major routes, and at the big money-losing route hiding behind the profit-makers,” says Brian Hollingshead of the Southern Gulf Islands.

The three major routes (from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island) are the giants of the system. Yet they’re facing the slimmest of cuts compared to the 22 smaller routes. Continue reading

Route 30 – Tsawwassen-Duke Point

The Tsawwassen-Duke Point route presents an opportunity for service cuts that would result in the biggest possible savings, with the least likely traffic loss and least social and economic impact.

This conclusion is based on analysis of data from BC Ferries to the BC Ferry Commission, and BC Ferries traffic data.

REVISED first table in the pdf

13Dec-Route 30-revised-Tsawwassen-Duke Point  (32 KB pdf)

Ferry rescue plan shows cracks

22 NOVEMBER 2013 –  The provincial government’s own information shows that the ferry rescue plan unveiled by Transportation Minister Todd Stone this week is based on numbers that don’t add up to a solution.

The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) are being asked to help tweak schedules to make the plan more workable. But no amount of tweaking will change the fact that the cuts to service and to seniors’ discounts are side issues. The root problems remain.

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Service cuts vs traffic losses

This is a study that compares the savings from service cuts to the dollar value of traffic losses. It demonstrates that the savings will not offset the value of lost traffic. The report was developed collaboratively between the FACC and the Powell River Regional District Chair, Colin Palmer.

Service cuts vs traffic loss (21 KB pdf)

New ferry fare hikes: Beyond the tipping point

02 OCTOBER 2012 – 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 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 percent;
• Next year those fares will have another 4.1 percent increase;
• The following two years will see two more increases, 4.0 and 3.9 percent;
Existing fuel surcharges continue on top of that, and will change with future fuel prices.

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