Monday, July 28, 2008

A taste for how the northern users have felt

The talk shows in Vancouver and Victoria were all abuzz this past week with the news that BC Ferries was significantly increasing the cost of transportation on the south coast.

The rate increases which come into effect on August 1 will see fares for major BC Ferries routes increase by 10.3 per cent, while minor routes will jump by 17.6 per cent on minor routes and folks taking the Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route will need to find an extra 9.2 per cent before they can hop on board.

Since that Wednesday announcement, ferry users on the southern routes have been slightly outspoken about the pending increases, with some suggesting that the time has come for a BC Residents discount for those that use the ferries for everyday requirements.

While our southern neighbours get all worked up about the rising cost of sailing the friendly waters of B C Ferries, northerners have been provided with a bit of break for now, as rates on the northern routes will remain as posted for the foreseeable future.

The Daily News had details on the increases in the south in Friday's paper.

'Whopping' B.C. Ferries fare hike has critics in a fury
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, July 25, 2008
Page one

Luckily British Columbia's most northern ferry routes won't be affected by yet another increase in fares but the latest hike for some routes has many people wondering just how much more expensive travelling by water might get in the province.

The BC Ferry Commissioner announced Wednesday he had approved the implementation of a fuel surcharge to "help offset the company's continued rising cost of fuel."

As of Aug. 1, fares for major BC Ferries routes will increase by 10.3 per cent - by 17.6 per cent on minor routes - and 9.2 per cent on the Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route.

Passengers travelling to and from Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands won't be paying more this summer, but NDP ferries critic Gary Coons said it is appalling that the Campbell government is imposing another "whopping" fare increase on B.C. ferries the same week that the government's own ferry advisory committees strongly recommended against such a move.

"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," said Coons.

"Yesterday, the Campbell government went ahead with ferry fuel surcharges as high as 17.6 per cent 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."

The fares affect Vancouver and Lower Mainland routes and the Southern and Northern Gulf Islands.

Earlier this week, the ferry advisory committees reported that, "surging ferry fares could threaten the viability of BC Ferries' whole system and cause substantial economic and social trauma to coastal communities."

BC Ferries has defended the fuel surcharge, saying the smaller increase affecting current customers is not as bad as rate increases affecting future passengers who would have to deal with an increase of twice as much.

"The Campbell government is ignoring the warnings from coastal communities," said Coons. "Campbell is just plowing ahead with his own agenda no matter what the cost to families and businesses who live in ferry-dependent communities."

No comments: