Northern routes exempt from new ferries surcharge

  • Jul. 31, 2008 5:00 p.m.

BC Ferries will start adding new, record-breaking fuel surcharges to fares on most of its routes Friday (Aug. 1), with the exception of the northern routes. The new surcharges, approved by the BC Ferry Commissioner last week, will add 17.6 percent to fares on the minor routes, 10.3 percent to fares on the major routes connecting Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, and 9.2 percent on the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route. However, passengers on the northern routes – between Skidegate and Prince Rupert, and Rupert and Port Hardy – will not have to pay any additional fares, for now. The Skidegate-Alliford Bay run, which is considered a minor route rather than a northern route, will be affected by the surcharge. As of Friday, traveling between Moresby and Graham Islands will cost an additional 90 cents per passenger, $2.30 per underheight vehicle, and $3.95 per overheight vehicle. BC Ferries said the new surcharges are required to cover the cost of record high fuel prices. BC Ferries spent $87-million on marine diesel in its latest fiscal year, compared to $46-million just five years earlier. If fuel prices continue to rise, the corporation said its fuel costs could amount to $140-million for the 2008-09 year. The corporation says it is trying to reduce the amount of fuel it burns, although its conservation targets had to be revised after it started running the Northern Adventure a year ago. The Northern Adventure, which runs on the Port Hardy to Prince Rupert route, burns more fuel than the ship it replaced, the sunken Queen of the North. NDP Ferries critic and North Coast MLA Gary Coons said the new surcharge is “appalling” and said it could affect the viability of some island communities. “On Monday, the 12 ferry advisory committees sent a report to the Campbell government warning about the dire consequences of this government’s record-breaking increases to ferry fares,” Mr. Coons said last week. “Yesterday, the Campbell government went ahead with ferry fuel surcharges as high as 17.6 percent on some runs. Instead of listening to the advisory committees and stopping the fare increase, this arrogant government is making the problem worse with an unfair and ineffective gas tax.”