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BC Ferry commissioner proposes up to 9.2 per cent fare hike, final number on Sept. 30

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The British Columbia Ferry Commission has announced its preliminary decision on ferry fare increases that if finalized would be up to a maximum of 9.2 per cent for each of the next four years.

The commission says that a final decision that would take into account recently announced additional provincial funding of $500 million will be confirmed on Sept. 30.

Commissioner Eva Hage says in a statement that her preliminary decision considers BC Ferries' labour difficulties, high inflation including rising fuel prices, and an aging fleet of vessels.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says in a response to the statement that he wants to assure those who use the coastal ferry service that the goal is to hold the annual fare increase to three per cent.

Ferries president Nicolas Jimenez also assured customers, employees and partners in a statement, saying a final rate increase will factor in the $500-million government investment and the average annual increase will be in the three per cent range.

Hage says the higher price cap in her preliminary decision is contingent on BC Ferries identifying $10 million in operating cost savings over the four-year term.

“The corporation must demonstrate good fiscal management and find a solid footing in which expenses align with revenues. To that end, we are requiring BC Ferries to provide us with a plan that sets out the steps it will take, in consultation with the province, to ensure a financially sustainable, safe, reliable and affordable ferry system over the long term.”

Jimenez says BC Ferries has an ambitious capital plan to invest billions in new ships, terminal upgrades, improvement in technologies and service enhancements.

“Those who travel with us deserve a service that keeps pace with growing demand and aging assets. The 12-year plan is in its early stages of development, and it's entirely natural that a program of this size and complexity will evolve and adjust over time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2023.

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