BC Ferries

War on coastal communities

Christy Clark’s Liberals seem dedicated to punishing residents of BC coastal communities, probably because all ferry dependent communities failed to return Liberal candidates in the last election. A few days ago, BC Ferries announced:

“Due to current world fuel market conditions that influence the prices that BC Ferries must pay its diesel fuel suppliers, the company is advising customers that a fuel surcharge will be implemented on the majority of its routes on January 17.

“The fuel surcharge will be 3.5 per cent on average…”

Is this truly a response to “world fuel market conditions” or something else? Projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) indicate the latter is correct. First, given the glut of North American oil, EIA expects stable prices in 2014:

Crude prices are the prime factor but we should pay attention to EIA predictions of diesel fuel prices:

BC Ferries spends about $120 million a year on diesel fuel so the new fuel surcharge would provide for a 14% increase in those costs. Yet, service cuts are being implemented and the ferry corporation claims it successfully initiated a fuel consumption reduction plan.

Canada’s inflation rate for 2013 was 0.91% and the Bank of Canada predicts a core inflation rate of about 1% in 2014. BC Ferries already had approval for rate increases four times the rate of inflation,

“4.1 per cent starting April 1, 2013, followed by another four-per-cent increase in April 2014 and a 3.9-per-cent hike in April 2015.”

Despite a stable fuel market, fuel savings plans, service cuts and fare increases well beyond inflation rates, coastal ferry users are suddenly told to absorb an almost $20 million hit in the form of fuel surcharges. There is no rational explanation beyond a desire to punish communities that chose not to elect BC Liberals.

I find it strange that Liberals are prepared to spend billions of dollars to subsidize foreign owned LNG factories but has committed nothing to fuel BC Ferries vessels with natural gas produced in this province.

Categories: BC Ferries

22 replies »

  1. A bit too political there (as per usual) . Where exactly is the source specific statements that tie in Coast ridings won by the NDP and this so-called “war” or is this something creative on your part? By reversal, were Coast riding s that went NDP ever given any additional rewards ferry wise when the NDP was in government? I think back, and there was never any spike in ferry service related to Coast ridings going NDP

    In regards to LNG and BC Ferries, obviously (once again) basic research was missed. BC Ferries is exploring LNG and the three new ships that are being placed currently out for bid consideration will be dual fuel (the focus here is not who builds these ferries, but rather they will be LNG capable.


    Even the Mop and Pail took notice:



  2. I find it totally unacceptable that the BC government refuses to address the coastal ferry situation. In the past decade, the BC government has subsidized bridges, highways and rapid transit systems to a tune of well over $10 billion! In fact the annual subsidy for our rapid transit systems is well in excess of $400 million annually.

    BC has a long coast line and government must fairly subsidize those living along the coastline and a failure to do so is a failure of good moral government.


  3. BC Liberals are no strangers to working against the public good to achieve their particular goals. Christy's playing the remainder of Gordo's hand and doing a pretty poor job of it, that is, gambling that the public will acquiesce to BC Liberal sabotage of BC Ferries at the expense of hundreds of thousands of citizens, their businesses, their jobs, their homes and aspirations, all to achieve 'winning conditions' that will rationalize privatizing the publicly owned service. The cronyism Gordo was initially able to conceal is now plainly in the cards ever since he got trumped by BC Rail and HST. Christy, in contrast, hasn't a clue how to finesse sleaze like the master did. Ironically her genuine misconception of appropriateness, her inability to eloquently evolve beyond smirking fibbery is inadequate to pile more bullshit, at least not convincingly, on the infamous Denman Island cable ferry proposal which currently sits stalled (“under review”) after a multimillion dollar propaganda campaign that didn't fool anyone and with costs mounting far higher than the savings originally claimed. A whole cartload of greed, mean spirited hubris and neo-right ideology got put before the engineering horse which only recently revealed a number of design concerns serious enough to scuttle the project. Another colossal waste of money to console BC Liberal saboteurs at their inability, this time, to privatize the run and exterminate union jobs.

    Makes you wonder, Norm, how the Comox Valley, with one major and two minor ferry runs, could re-elect BC Liberal Don McRae.


  4. Yes, BC Ferries is exploring possible operation of LNG powered ferries, some years in the future. By comparison, Fjord1 in Norway now operates 11 LNG powered ferries after making a decision to convert to domestically produced gas more than a decade ago.


  5. Probably for the same reason that area elected NDP MLAs for much longer than they had for BC Liberal MLA that is there now. What is perlexing still is why the NDP decided Gordon Wilson would make an excellent Minister Reponsible for BC Ferries.


  6. Techncially true, but then let's turn that argument to the New Democratic Party. They certainly aren't “new” and haven't been since 1973. Democratic? Well they are in many ways, sort of in some ways, but others they aren't at all.


  7. BC Ferries asked shipyards to submit a “Request for Pre-Qualification” for a project to create two 145-car ferries and one 125-car ferry, each with dual fuel capability, LNG and marine diesel. In late 2013, BCF issued a Request for Proposal to four builders from Poland, Germany, Turkey and Norway and to Seaspan here in BC, inviting them “to participate further in the procurement process.”

    At this time, the RFP process is underway and final specifications for the needed vessels are not established.


  8. they aren't smart enough to sit down and think about getting even with coastal commuities by raising fuel charges. Raising fuel charges hurts not only those who didn't vote for them but those who did. that includes a lot of companies who move stuff from the mainland to vancouver island, etc.

    so far we have had the tolls on the port mann double, the announcement of the fuel surcharge, provincial government land up for sale. no this is all about the province being broke. as in DETROIT NORTH. The lieberals last chance to raise a little cash was when christy crunch went off to china to try to sell b.c. bonds in chinese funds. it is somewhat doubtful she got the money she thought she would. some one has sat her down and explained it wasn't monopoly money and the real stuff is alllllll gone.

    we can expect to see cuts in services, increases in rates–we've had the hydro rate increases, watch for extra taxes on gasoline at the pumps and icbc rate increases. this government is desperate. to maintain the life style of the entitled politicians there has to be money and we are out of it, well the government is, but thee and me, we still have a tad in our sock. she'll come for that next.

    The Alberta First Nations has started court action in regards to resource extraction. it has most likely scared the crap out of christy. there aren't going to be any pipelines, there aren't going to be any tankers of money. she is currently missing in action. she is either having a face lift or nervous breakdown, now that she knows the province has a debt toll of about $60 billlion and no way to pay it off. she can thank el gordo for much of it, but she too is to blame. No one on the government benchs knows how to run a fiscally responsible government so here we go folks. Some of us might want to find a new place to live, which is less expensive. Bet you we see a new tax on land transactions~! well the Mainland Chinese buy a lot of land here and they don't vote,so who better to get the money from.

    No the province needs the extra $20M in fuel charges because the province is BROKE, as in DETROIT NORTH.

    It might be interesting to see when some of those bonds the government issues come due. do not expect things to get better. as to selling off assets, she won't restrict that to vacant land we might need next year. have a good look around at all the land the b.c. government owes in downtown vancouver. now think of how much it is worth and then look for a for sale sign on it. nothing is safe from sale.


  9. This is another bad news announcement from BC Ferries that seemed to lack any critical investigation by the MSM. Ms. Marshall stood before the vaunted scribes and reporters and stated that the increase was unavoidable because the projected cost of fuel exceeded projections by a substantial amount. I forget whether these projections were courtesy of the overpaid board of BC Ferries or the overpaid bureaucrat, and his staff, that oversees the board. Either way, those people that depend on the ferry system have just gotten another financial kick in the privates. My problem with this announcement is that not one reporter/scribe asked Ms. Marshall a very simple question. Would ferry fares have been reduced if the projections were overstated by whichever overpaid bureaucrat erred in his assessment?


  10. Great post, Norm. Thanks. B.C. Ferries has given me added reason to curb my travel habits. I haven't had the need to go off-island in more than three years. You really don't give up much by staying on Vancouver and the Gulf Islands.


  11. In fiscal 2013, BC Ferries carried 7.7 M vehicles and 19.9 M passengers.

    Norway's largest ferry company, Fjord1, carried 10 M vehicles and 22.2 M passengers in its last year. It operates 12 LNG powered ferries and plans more. Other Norwegian ferry operators use LNG fueled vessels and in total, there are at least 20 gas powered ferries in the country.

    Despite the attitude of BC Ferries over the past decade, gas powered vessels are not radical or unproven technology. We have one more example of incompetent direction by the top heavy management structure of BC Ferries.


  12. Here is what I believe the game is;

    Starve coastal communities so that businesses end up in bankruptcy and the population dwindles on many of the islands as people leave looking for employment. This out migration will have an effect on real estate prices, both developed and undeveloped land.

    Already happening on Salt Spring.

    Friends of BC liberals will scoop up the properties as the value tanks. Then the island ferry service will be revitalized or some such thing and presto! The land values skyrocket……

    They did it with BC Rail, (and sold all of the land BC Rail owned to their friendly developers) they are doing it with BC Hydro, and they are presently sinking BC Ferries in debt. This is how the Clark group works.


  13. Unfortunately, very true. But how would you substantiate that? Why, if we have a 'balanced budget', does the debt continue to skyrocket?
    When I balance MY budget my debt stabilizes. Like it doesn't continue to go up; unless my budget becomes unbalanced.
    Which brings me to the question: “Where in they world is Waldo…errr, Chrispy?”


  14. Final specifications are rarely established at the RFP stage in the bid process. The concept of LNG has been looked at by BC Ferries since 2011noted in a few trade journals related to marine transportation, and they have stated many trade journals that for new builds the LNG fuel option is the way to go for savings. They have stated they would migrate LNG to new builds first, conversion second. Also noted is that BC Ferries is exploring ways to convert some vessels to LNG.

    It takes time to do it right, fuel handling, logistics, safety and security and this is the first step.

    In regarding to management, it is top heavy, but personally I do not want see any return to the politicizing of BC Ferries that was rampant when the NDP was in power, and before the failed semi-private structure that is now in place.

    It will be interesting to see how this comes out, given the much opposition to LNG development in any form by environmentalists and everyone who is opposed to LNG in any way simply because it is Christy Clark's pet project.


  15. I went to Google images looking for BC Liberal pictures with Federal Liberals and couldn't find any. Then I looked for BC Liberal pictures with Federal Conservatives…


  16. Even BC Liberal MLAs are not dumb enough to pose with federal Liberals. It sends the wrong message, that they support a leader and party that has gone to pot, and that they want to be seen with someone who isn't a leader, but a follower. But the BC Liberal Party will migrate to the federal LIEberals. Give it time. Christy Clark is federal Liberal as his her idiot brother Bruce. The Conservative oriented members of the Provincial Council will be flushed out to be replaced with those who favour the federal Liberals. Well before election time. Be around a federal Liberal when it happens.


  17. Didn't China pay for, 800 hectares at Prince Rupert? Is that not where China is building their LNG plant? I won't be the least surprise if, China fuels our ferries.

    Thousands of Chinese are coming over, for the China Northern BC mining plan. Harper is bringing over foreigners and training them for the oil patch and BC's mines. Rumor has it, China wants the timber and the 18 mines, on Vancouver Island.

    Harper is no Conservative, what-so-ever. Nor, are the BC Liberals, Liberals either.

    Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation of 1989. Harper has brought his old policies, right along with him.


Leave a reply but be on topic and civil.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s