BC Ferries' workhorse Spiirit-Class vessels are being converted to LNG fuel to reduce costs

Ferry fare hikes to be capped at 1.9 per cent

Route reductions, cheaper fuel and more tourists expected to hold fare hikes to around inflation until 2020

The next BC Ferries fare increase of 3.9 per cent will go ahead as scheduled April 1, but increases will be capped at no more than 1.9 per cent for four years after that.

BC Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee said Wednesday the recent sailing reductions and other cost cutting, lower fuel prices and positive ridership forecasts have allowed him to set the cap at about the rate of inflation for all routes from 2016 to 2020.

A lower dollar is expected to attract U.S. residents to B.C. while keeping more Canadian vacationers at home, with lower gasoline prices for travellers as well as ferry fuel costs, Macatee said. Conversion of ships to use liquefied natural gas will also reduce fuel costs.

Macatee cautioned that oil prices are volatile, and the forecasts are based on $65-a-barrel oil compared to about $50 today.

“Trying to predict fuel prices for the next five days is daunting,” Macatee said. “Our challenge is to predict it for the next five years.”

BC Ferries has cut administrative costs by $5 million since 2009, reduced executive pay by $1.2 million a year, reduced overtime and improved safety enough to lower WorkSafeBC premiums for employees.

BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan said he is pleased with the findings of a performance review by PriceWaterhouseCoopers that gave the corporation good marks for efficiency and the operation of BC Ferries Vacations. Food service revenue is approaching $50 million a year and a drop trailer service for truckers is also contributing to BC Ferries’ bottom line.

An overhaul of the ferry reservations system is also expected to improve ridership when it is implemented.

NDP ferries critic Claire Trevena said the optimistic forecasts are based on a two per cent increase in ridership, but to the average traveller, they mean further increases to an already high fare. She also cautioned that the 1.9 per cent cap is an average for the BC Ferries fleet, and some routes could see larger increases.

For the longer term, Macatee said he has asked BC Ferries to evaluate savings to be had by consolidating the three ferry terminals at Nanaimo and three on Saltspring Island. He wants BC Ferries to reconsider a $200 million terminal replacement and six new vessels for Horseshoe Bay, considering if smaller vessels and more sailings would be more efficient.

Just Posted

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Aussies buy majority stake in Red Chris mine

Company looks forward to relationship with Tahltan Nation

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients to drop by 31 per cent: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

CityWest to reopen its Kitimat office

The company anticipates growth in demand for services with LNG Canada’s project

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Sulphur dioxide level peaks in Kitimat

Levels rise to over 60 parts per billion

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

Most Read