Ferry fare caps allow major hikes in years ahead

BC Ferries wanted room to raise rates even more

BC Ferries MV Coastal Celebration.

BC Ferries has been given the tentative green light to raise major route fares by up to 4.15 per cent and minor routes by 8.23 per cent in each of the next four years.

The preliminary rate cap ruling of BC Ferries Commissioner Martin Crilly means fares could climb a total of 17.6 per cent by the spring of 2015 on major routes connecting the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

The increase could be more than 37 per cent over that period for all other northern and minor routes.

That’s over and above ferry fare increases that take effect April 1 (Friday).

BC Ferries had requested room to raise fares even higher over the next four years.

The lower rate cap is possible because Crilly has ordered the ferry corporation to find an $18.5-million reduction in costs.

The commissioner’s decision is a preliminary one – the public has until June 30 to comment at bcferrycommission.com and BC Ferries has one month to challenge the rationale for ordering the cost reduction and lower rate cap.

The estimates assume service levels are unchanged and there’s no increased subsidy for the ferry system from the provincial government

A final decision isn’t expected before September.