Enjoy your last ride or two with the BC Ferry Corporation, because soon you’ll be riding with BC Ferry Services- and you’ll be paying more. 3.8-percent more starting this weekend, then more every November for the following five years, for a total increase of 25.8-percent by the end of 2007.
Southern routes will see smaller increases of 2.8-percent per year starting next year, or 17.8-percent over the six years, a full 8- percent less than we’ll be paying in the north.
The increases were announced along with the restructuring announcement made by the province on Monday.
On the islands, preliminary reaction is not very positive.
Carol Kulesha, regional district director
BC Ferries fare hike of 25-percent over the next 5 years will negatively impact all areas of our life on the islands. The cost of food, building materials and other goods, our ability to travel, seek medical health. The ferry is our highway. We are trying to encourage economic diversity and transportation is a key factor in our ability to compete.
I am unhappy with the inequality of the fare increases. All fares increase this weekend by 3.8-percent, but starting next year major routes increase by 2.8-percent over the next five years while minor, northern and Sunshine fares will increase 4.4-percent per year. The tax dollars that come off these islands support the BC economy, but decisions like this make it harder to live here.
This will be on the regional district’s agenda Friday.
Ian Lordon, regional district director
It’s the same old story, they pamper the urban voters while we get pounded. This hurts everywhere. It will discourage tourists, making getting off the islands more expensive, and increase the cost of nearly everything we buy locally. I suppose if there’s a lesson here it’s that privatization really means higher prices, something people should bear in mind when this government is talking about BC Hydro and liquor stores.”
Gerry Johnson, councillor, Port Clements
I’ve known for years that there had to be changes. We’ve been getting less and less service and paying more and more for it. Whether these changes will work or not remains to be seen.”
“I don’t know if setting the ferry up as a corporation will work because it’s not realistic that this will really be arms length from the government. If the government really wanted the ferry system to be private, they’d open it up to private bids from many companies not just one. Right now it excludes competition because the standards and contracts are all going to one company – BC Ferry Services. The government shouldn’t delude themselves or the public that there will be more competition, because how can there be?”
“The next thing is the role of the independent regulator-I can’t fathom that. If BC Ferry Services is an independent corporation then it’s their role to maintain financial viability and set appropriate prices to remain viable.”
“I want the government to make a commitment that the northern and minor routes will be subsidized because they can’t make a profit at them, they can’t even break even. And if the routes aren’t guaranteed, the company won’t be able to guarantee reasonable rates on those routes.