Ferry users slapped with surcharge

  • Jan. 20, 2006 8:00 p.m.

It’s official: ferry fares will be going up again on Feb. 1, after the BC Ferry Commission gave the green light to a second fuel surcharge.
The Ferry Commission gave a preliminary okay to the increase a month ago, but on Friday (Jan. 20) the decision became final. Fares on the minor routes will be going up by a further 3-percent, while fares on the major routes go up by 1.5-percent.
Combining the new surcharge with the previous surcharge approved last summer, it all adds up to an extra $1.90 per passenger on the Skidegate-Prince Rupert route, and an additional $7.10 per vehicle (or $18.75 for an overheight vehicle).
On the Kwuna run, it’s an extra $0.45 per passenger and $1.20 per vehicle, or $2.40 per overheight vehicle.
North Coast MLA Gary Coon said he was disappointed in the decision, especially the larger hike for the smaller routes.
“People who live outside the lower mainland are being treated like second-class citizens,” Mr. Coons said. “This is another example of why a privatized ferry system is bad for British Columbia.”
In his decision, deputy commission Alan Eastwood said he received 160 e-mail and letters from citizens on this issue, almost all of them opposed to the increase.
However, Mr. Eastwood said he approved the surcharge because he agrees with BC Ferry Services’ assessment that fuel costs will be much higher than the company had previously expected. Although the company has been making money, he said, it will be reinvesting those profits in new vessels and other infrastructure, so it would be unfair to require it to cover the soaring fuel cost.
The commission is also requiring BC Ferry Services to reduce its fuel consumption over the next two years, and to come up with a comprehensive plan to save fuel.
If fuel costs continue to rise, a further surcharge may be imposed on passengers in June.