The latest ferry fare hikes are like a bad joke to North Island MLA Claire Trevena.
BC Ferries announced last Wednesday that ticket prices are going up by 4.1 per cent on all routes starting next month.
“It’s effective April 1 – April Fools Day,” Trevena said. “I don’t think people are going to be laughing who use the ferries.”
The rate hike means a one-way trip from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay for a vehicle up to 20 feet will increase to $51.25 from the current fare of $49.25.
For a foot passenger, that same trip will increase to $15.50 from $14.85.
A ferry trip from Campbell River to Quadra Island will cost $22.15, up from $21.30 for vehicles while the Quadra Island to Cortes route will increase to $25.80 from $24.80 for vehicles.
Foot passengers will pay $9.45, up from $9.10, on the Campbell River-Quadra run while on the Quadra-Cortes route, foot passenger fares will increase to $11.10 from $10.65.
The rate hike is the first of three anticipated fare increases approved by BC Ferries Commissioner Gord Macatee last October.
Trevena said ironically this latest fare hike was announced just days after the release of a report outlining findings from the B.C. government’s community ferry consultation meetings.
“The report summarized what happened in those meetings and through the meetings it was clear the number one thing was we need to have the ferries treated as highways and we need to keep fares down because this is not sustainable,” Trevena said. “And the next day we see fares going up.”
Trevena said she routinely hears from her constituents about how ferry prices are impacting island communities.
“It hurts Cortes and Quadra badly but also people in Campbell River who can’t visit their families or families that can’t come visit them because the ferry prices are too high,” said Trevena, who noted ferry costs also negatively affect sports teams and impact decisions surrounding school field trips.
She said Island businesses are also being hit by the high cost of having to transport goods.
“We’re paying a ridiculous amount for what should be a highway,” Trevena said. “It’s really scary for families.
“How are they going to live with another increase?”
BC Ferries said in a news release the increases “are required due to the rising cost of operating and capital expenditures.”
In addition to raising fares, the corporation will also be making cuts to its service in an effort to save $26 million in operations by 2016.
Transportation Minister Mary Polak said route cuts won’t be made public until June 30 at the earliest.
Last year BC Ferries eliminated some sailings on the Duke Point (Nanaimo)-Tsawassen run because it was losing, on average, an estimated $50 per vehicle.
BC Ferries said last year it plans to cut at least 100 sailings on its Vancouver Island routes, mostly late evening runs that typically don’t see a lot of volume.