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)

FACC submission to BC government’s 2012 coastal ferries consultation

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.

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BC Ferries: let’s get back to basics

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.

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Assessing ferry fare projections

07 February 2011 –  Recently reported coastal ferry fare increases are a realistic assessment of what will happen in the absence of additional government support or of service reductions, say the Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC), which represent residents of coastal communities.

While projections may change if conditions change, the FACC see these as fixed realities:

  • The major and non-major route groups are different.
  • Only the provincial government can substantially reduce projected fares.
  • Basic provincial support for coastal ferries is $92M a year, unchanged since 2003.
  • Coastal communities are like any rural BC community.
  • Additional ferry funding makes good economic and public policy sense.
  • Imagine BC without affordable public access to the coast.

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Community input into ferry contract review

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.

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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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Summer ferry traffic suggests rethinking user pay

14 SEPTEMBER 2009 –  Summer traffic statistics just released by BC Ferries clearly indicate that high ferry fares affect the system, and suggest that current user-pay policies require re-examination.

The Ferry Advisory Committees chairs (FACC) believe the evidence is in the apparent connection between traffic and fares.

Traffic increased by 3 % across the system, during a period when BC Ferries offered the major routes a fare discount, and minor routes a fuel rebate. Both reductions lowered fares substantially, and both groups saw traffic rise substantially compared to last year.

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Fare cuts work: bright spot in dismal year

25 JUNE 2009 –  The chairs of the 12 Ferry Advisory Committees (FACC) see some warning signs and one bright spot in the latest annual report from BC Ferries (BCF), all of which will affect the system that gives British Columbians public access to their coast.

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Ups and downs of the new ferry math

31 MARCH 2008 – Users of BC Ferries’ non-major routes are brushing up on their math, to try to keep track of what they’re going to be paying for travel, and to try to figure out where it can end.

Fares increases coming on April 1 are the second round of hikes within five months. Together the two hikes have boosted minor route fares by 11% this year.

This is keeping fares on the trajectory that started shooting upward after 2003. By 2011 the cumulative increases are expected to hit triple-digit percentages.

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Proposals for sustainable ferry service

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:

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