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

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Fraser-Cascade School Board votes to invest in protecting the future of its students’ hearing

Decibel monitors to be installed in secondary schools’ machine shops as a visual guide

Kent-Harrison Foundation celebrates 25 years

The foundation started in 1994 on the promise of a two-for-one donation deal

Bucket-list flight for Chilliwack grandmother

Hampton House resident treated to a beautiful plane ride in Moments that Matter

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Most Read