BC Ferries fare increases, caps at lower rates this year

  • Apr. 15, 2015 6:00 p.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverBC Ferries increased their ticket prices two per cent April 1, boosting the cost of a regular passenger vehicle crossing the Hecate Straight $2.75, to a total of $165 one way, excluding passenger fees.While a rate increase of any amount, no matter how small, is bound to anger many island passengers, other parts of the province saw ticket prices jump as high as 3.9 per cent.BC Ferries tried to lighten the blow to people’s pocket books by simultaneously announcing a fuel rebate to even out the fuel surcharges that customers have paid in the past.”We know that fare affordability is an issue for our customers and because we’ve hedged a considerable amount of our diesel fuel costs over the next fiscal year, we are pleased to be in a position to introduce a fuel rebate which helps lessen the impact of the tariff increase,” Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ president and CEO said. Routes to Prince Rupert and Port Hardy do not pay a fuel surcharge, so Haida Gwaiians will not see any relief there; however those commuting on the Kwuna route between Skidegate and Sandspit will see the fuel rebate of 15 cents printed on their tickets.Bill Beldesi, a regional district director, known for his critical stance on BC Ferries took the news lightly.”Every bit helps,” he said.Reservation costs, assured loading tickets and buy-in level for Experience Cards did not see an increase in costs.A few days prior to these announcements, BC Ferries commissioner Gord Macatee also released the preliminary price cap of 1.9 per cent increases for each year between the term commencing April 2016 and ending in March 2020. This is considerably less than the previous cap of 4.15 per cent for major routes and 8.23 per cent for rural routes. Although a price cap sounds like a guarantee, nothing is set in stone.”The price cap is set and I can’t change it,” said Mr. Macatee, “but BC ferries can come in and ask for a change if we’ve really made a mistake and costs are much higher and they’re not able to meet their financial requirement. There is a provision, if needed, for the company to be able to ask for an increase.””The thing I don’t want to do is set it too high at the front-end because there because there is no mechanism for anyone to come and ask me to lower it.” Mr. Macatee added. One of the major considerations for the years ahead is the price of oil, which has fluctuated greatly since the last cap was introduced.

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