Monday, June 5, 2023
June 5, 2023

Ferries get financial boost from province 

A weekend press conference heralded half a billion dollars in new ferry funding, but offered few specifics on how that money would be used to keep fares from potentially skyrocketing.  

Premier David Eby said the goal was to head off a likely increase in ticket prices, warning that recent submissions to the BC Ferries Commission had indicated a need for hikes of more than 10 per cent each year for four consecutive years — an unacceptable pressure on “families and small businesses who rely on BC Ferries,” he said.  

“People would of course be paying more to ride the ferry,” said Eby, “but we would also see other prices rise as a result.”   

Eby cited potential impacts to deliveries and increased costs for businesses, professional contractors and tradespeople who could in turn pass these costs on to consumers already hit hard by rising prices.  

But while Eby and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming were adamant the $500 million would be used to offset potential fare increases — possibly keeping them as low as three per cent, they said — questions about how much might be budgeted for fleet electrification or other specific cost-saving measures were skirted in favour of broad strokes. The final fares will, Fleming said, be determined by the ferry commissioner, not the province.  

“So I don’t have a breakdown,” said Fleming. “The capital side of BC Ferries operation is not the government of B.C.’s job, it’s an independent company. The commissioner has a very important role to play in overseeing the credibility and the importance of the investments that are planned to be made by BC Ferries, and that’s exactly what’s going on right now as they negotiate a new performance term.”  

The BC Ferries commissioner is expected to announce preliminary annual fare increases by the end of March, which will guide a four-year period beginning in April of next year; the final plan for increases will be published by Sept. 30.  


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