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

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Road trip comes to end with split for Grand Forks Border Bruins

The team is coming off its longest road trip this season.

Grand Forks high school students remember

The school and the Legion joined for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Letter: English town remembers Grand Forks on anniversary of Armistice

Phillip Morris writes from Shrewsbury, England.

Children’s books needed for Christmas hampers

Considering donating some books this Christmas.

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read