New funding will keep ferry fares affordable

February 26, 2023 at 2:16 pm  BC, News, Politics

The B.C. government is taking action to lower fare increases for people who rely upon B.C.’s coastal ferry service through $500 million in new funding for BC Ferries.

“Every day, people use BC Ferries to get to work, and visit family and friends, as well as plan vacations,” said Premier David Eby. “We know the cost of everything continues to go up due to global inflation, but by acting now, we can prevent double-digit fare increases from hitting people who depend on our ferries.”

Through a recent submission to the BC Ferries commissioner and the impacts of global inflation over the past 18 months, it was clear BC Ferries users could face fare increases of 10.4% a year for the four-year period of 2024 to 2028. With this $500-million investment, the B.C. government’s goal is to keep annual average fare increases below 3% a year. Final fare increases will be determined by the BC Ferries commissioner.

“Our government recognizes the importance of reliable and affordable ferry service for travel and goods movement,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “It is vital that people living in B.C.’s coastal communities that depend on ferries — and all British Columbians — are well served and supported by this service.”

The increase in core costs like fuel, along with higher inflation are factors in driving up overall costs for BC Ferries. The $500 million will also support greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction through electrification of vessels and other initiatives to green the fleet and operations. Businesses will benefit from affordable ferry rates as many small businesses rely on BC Ferries for the movement of goods through freight transport.

The BC Ferries commissioner is in the process of determining, by March 31, 2023, the preliminary annual fare increases (price cap) for the next four-year period starting April 1, 2024. The final annual fare increases for the next performance term will be published by Sept. 30, 2023.

Today’s announcement builds on other actions the B.C. government has taken to improve service and keep fares affordable. In spring 2019, the Province added 2,700 round trips, reduced fares by 15% on smaller and northern routes, froze fares on the major routes, and brought back free passenger travel for seniors, Monday through Thursday. In 2020, $308 million in Safe Restart funding was provided to BC Ferries to cover COVID-19 related operational losses, protect service and limit fare increases.

Quotes:

Joy MacPhail, BC Ferries Services Board chair – 

“Ferry services are vital for our coastal communities and economy. Thanks to the provincial government’s investment, ferry commuters will have continued access to affordable, reliable and accessible service and cleaner, modern and efficient ferries.”

Lecia Stewart, chair, B.C. Ferry Authority –

“We make excellent progress when we work together in the public’s interest. The provincial government’s record amount of funding will support reliable, affordable and efficient travel for coastal British Columbians. We look forward to continued collaboration on this important part of B.C.’s transportation network.”

Jill Sharland, interim president, BC Ferries –

“This significant funding from the Province supports necessary service enhancements and infrastructure investments while keeping fares affordable for the travelling public and our commercial customers. We are thankful we have a government partner who understands the complexity of running one of the largest ferry systems in the world and is as committed as we are to providing safe and reliable service to the people and communities of B.C.’s west coast.”

Diana Mumford, chair, Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs group, and Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee chair –

“The funding announcement being shared today will be a very welcome benefit for all ferry users on coastal B.C. This is especially true for those that live and work in communities reliant on ferries to travel to work, medical services or visit family. This funding will ensure BC Ferries fares continue to be affordable for B.C. residents.”

 

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