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

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

RED resort announces new ski lift

Topping lift will add new ski area to resort, reduce bottleneck on Motherload chair

Paramedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

Staffing shortages affecting service levels in Kootenays

Kim Johnson retires from rec department

Johnson had worked at Grand Forks Recreation Department for 25 years

COLUMN: 2018 second-largest on record for food bank

Boundary Community Food Bank added 109 new clients last year

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Rural Kootenay communities to receive high-speed internet upgrade

The provincial government is increasing internet connectivity to rural British Columbia

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Most Read