BC Ferries

An example of coastal ferry fares, 5x inflation

One of my readers lives modestly on Texada Island and comes to the city occasionally for shopping and medical treatments and to visit family and friends. He retired on this northern Gulf Island after working there in the rock quarries and then as a gyppo logger.

My correspondent feels the pain of ferry fares. When he and his partner make a return trip to Vancouver, which is 75 miles distant as the crow flies, they face three ferry crossings that total about two hours each way. The fares for a small car and two adults is $199.55 return.

Five years ago, the couple paid $145.35 for the same trip, an increase of 37%, with the next price rise due in four months.

According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, a dollar in 2008 is equivalent to $1.074 today so my reader’s ferry charges have risen five times the rate of inflation.

Categories: BC Ferries

11 replies »

  1. Fees are often used to encourage or discourage behaviors in the public. Is it not possible that the increase in fee is an attempt to reduce car traffic? And increase foot passengers instead of car passengers?


  2. to 131220, no the provincial government is not trying to change our habits and encourage us to not take cars. Foot passengers don't pay as much as vehicles and ferries may hold only so many people. If a ferry reached its capacity with foot passengers but no vehicles, it wouldn't make much money. It is always best to sail with a full load of vehicles.

    The government is increasing ferry fares because they can. It is that simple. Goods need to come and go. People need to travel for business, medical reasons, etc. Ridership has declined simply because of the cost. Of course it has forced some to leave the islands. Four years ago the ferries were still offering “off time” lower priced tickets. People travelled. Then they offered them, but it was not publicized all that much. Then they dropped it. Now why have a ferry sail half empty when you could fill it up with people at a lower price.

    Perhaps it is the government's intent to depopulate smaller islands. There are 18 mining applications for the Comox valley alone. Perhaps the fewer people, the fewer who will protest the mines. The fewer people, the less water used and more for mining operations.

    The B.C. Ferries runs a deficeit because one Gordon campbell paid a billion or two to the German banks to build the ferries in Germany. Then he “borrowed” about $750Million, charged it to the ferry account and put the money in general revenue and claimed he had a balanced budget. During this time the B.C. Ferries ceased to be a Crown corporation so the interest rate went from the usual 3% to 10%. Not good business practices. The government isn't even smart enough to try to negotiate a lower interest rate somewhere else, or who knows maybe they locked in at 10%.

    Now we have the clown queen trotting off to china to give away more of our natural resources.

    The free ferries have always been free, to the best of my recollection. The salt water ferries have always had fees.


  3. That may be sensible in a dense urban environment. The Seabus for example is efficient and useful. But, Texada has fewer than 4 people per square kilometre. What do you suppose is the frequency of their public transit?

    Also, the Sunshine Coast from Sechelt north to Westview is sparsely populated. Like it or not, private vehicles are essential in the rural environment.


  4. You make a point worth thinking about. Texada Island for example was productive with mining and forestry but lately, entrepreneurs have worked to install an LNG facility, a gas fired power plant and now a coal export port. They want to run a steady stream of barges from the lower mainland to Texada where it would be stockpiled until loaded onto bulk carriers headed to the orient. All of that would be much easier if old time residents were cleared off the land.

    Remember that ferries primarily serve people of lesser means. The elites use choppers, float planes and yachts. The biggest customer by far for Helijet service between Vancouver and Victoria is the provincial government. Try as you might, you won't spot a cabinet minister sipping a coffee while waiting hours at the ferry terminal.


  5. BC has a long coast line, with many islands and as such maintains a ferry service to many of them. These ferries are an essential service for the people living on these islands and are subsidized. It is the cost of living in BC.

    Let us not forget that just the SkyTrain system is subsidized by the provincial government by over $300 million annually and if we were to pay the real fare to travel on Skytrain, it would be like $12 a trip. People living in Vancouver have a very good and highly subsidized deal for a 1 zone transit fare.

    Gordon Campbell's reign of fiscal terror only had one goal, to spur massive development by major corporations and by his political friends of BC. To achieve this, taxes were slashed for the wealthy and for corporations, with the poor burdened with massive user fee hikes. The high cost of BC Ferry fares is just part of Gordo's plan of a massive cash grab.


  6. So,how long before it's all sold off at pennies on the dollar to friends for what it would cost to build???

    I fear it's coming.


  7. Let us not forget that the entire coast voted NDP, top to bottom. We are being punished for that while the road to privatization is paved. People are already crying for it. Shameful. I say its time to Secede.


  8. Norm , as usual excellent reading and thinking material, I was living up north when Mr. Campbell started closing court houses ,schools, services were drastically cut, forestry changes, people had to leave those communities for work, then of course came the selloff of BC Rail, just in time for the mining expansions on the horizon.
    I felt then it was about changing the demographics of that whole area for big industry,( Enbridge?) not 10 years later) Lots of people left those areas, they had to for work… I remember when we used to call ourselves “Beyond Hope” up there, everything had to be done from out of town, or at a bigger center like Vancouver or Prince George
    It looks like that might be the plan for gulf islands and coastal regions sad to say.
    Cut services to bare minimum so people have to leave
    Am I crazy for thinking that It could happen again?
    Enbridge, Kinder Morgan pipelines coal ports??
    Thanks again Norm for some great eye opening posts


  9. August 31, 2013 …….
    Based on our reviews and monitoring, the commissioners are satisfied that during FY 2013, BC Ferries met all
    of its obligations under the Coastal Ferry Act and also met all of its obligations under the Coastal Ferry Services
    Contract (CFSC) with the provincial government. As required under the CFSC, the company provided the core
    service levels on all regulated routes. BC Ferries also conducted the annual customer satisfaction survey as
    required under the CFSC.
    Page 6 of 14 FY 2013

    Complied with price cap increase of 4.15 per cent for all routes.

    Achieved operating cost efficiencies in excess of $31 million.

    Met or exceeded frequency and capacity of sailings required in the Coastal Ferry Services Contract.

    Delivered 84,113.5 round trips compared to 83,291.5 required under the CFSC.

    Cancelled 278.5 scheduled round trip sailings primarily due to weather, mechanical failure or regulatory issue but provided 1,100.5 extra sailings in total.

    Provided capacity to carry the traffic with overall capacity utilization on the designated routes ranging from 20.2
    per cent to 72.2 per cent.

    Improved on‐time performance to 92.3 per cent system wide, and maintained high levels of reliability and customer satisfaction

    AND Price Caps


  10. Which means they wasted resources $$$$ delivering 822 too many sailings and Cancelled 275.5 sailings when it was IMPORTANT to travelers BUT added 1,100.5 EXTRA sailings when they were not needed = 1,992 sailings

    CBC: 6,900 sailing per year on 16 minor routes will be affected


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