The president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association says if gas prices in Metro Vancouver continue to soar, it will eventually have a domino effect on consumers.
Speaking from the BCTA headquarters in Walnut Grove, Dave Earle weighed in on gas prices, which hit $1.55 cents per litre (regular) this week at many Metro Vancouver locations.
“Any cost increases are passed on very quickly,” Earle said.
For example, drivers were required to adjust their rates the day after the tolls were taken off the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges last summer.
“Fuel is the No. 1 cost in terms of consumables for any trucking company, and any cost that’s built into their business is passed on to the consumer,” Earle continued. “Ultimately, there is only one margin.”
Prices at the pump continues to climb amid fuel shortages, and with the first carbon tax increase in seven years coming into effect.
The carbon tax goes from $30 to $35 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, or 1.2 cents per litre of gasoline, bringing the total carbon tax to about eight cents on a litre of fuel. It’s the first of a series of increases agreed to by the B.C. NDP and Green Party to form a minority government, a 66-per-cent increase over four years.
For Metro Vancouver, with a seasonal shutdown of the only remaining refinery in Burnaby and B.C.’s only supply pipeline at maximum, gasoline prices could top $1.60 per litre in the coming weeks, an all-time high.
These developments will affect the trucking industry, said Earle, who noted that 90 per cent of goods “came off the back of the truck for at least part of their journey.”
“So that’s all going to cost more,” he said.
As part of a low-margin industry, BCTA members feel the impact of high fuel costs directly, according to Earle.
BCTA members are under increased pressure due to rising fuel prices, Earle said, and as a result are requesting (and in some cases getting) rate increases from their shippers.
“It varies from company to company and situation to situation,” Earle said. “But certainly, there’s additional cost pressures (on drivers and trucking companies) and they will be seeking some relief from that from their shippers, which means the stuff that you and I buy, will cost incrementally more.”
For roughly the past five years, the BCTA has been working with the provincial government on the implementation of New Generation Wide Base Single Tires, which he says helps to increase fuel efficiency.
“So rather than two tires, there’s one really wide one,” Earle said. “They are used in Ontario, they’re used in Manitoba, they’re certainly used in Washington State. Those tires represent anywhere from a three (per cent) to an eight or nine per cent fuel economy savings.”
But to date, he noted, government “has not been receptive” to approving those tires in B.C.
Asked if he’s frustrated about rising fuel costs, Earle said “it’s not so much frustration as it is a concern.”
“Ultimately, everything that’s cost is passed on to the consumer,” he said. “So frustrated from being the president, no, but frustrated from being a private citizen, yeah.”
Independent drivers are paid on a cents-per-mile basis and Earle believes they’ll be approaching their shippers asking for more money to help cover costs.
“You may have individuals who say to their shippers, ‘I’m just not going to do that,’” Earle said. “You’re going to have to find somebody else. It’s a free market, and that’s where you’re going to find your rate inefficiencies and competitiveness but ultimately, any extra costs are passed on to you and I, eventually.”
Hunting for cheap gas
At $112.9 per litre on Tuesday, Vernon has the cheapest gas in B.C. according to gasbuddy.com.
The website shows that the Costco station in Prince George was selling regular gas at $115.9 per litre, and regular gas at the Co-Op in Armstrong is going for $116.9 per litre on Monday.
Closer to home, the cheapest gas in Langley most recently recorded by gasbuddy.com was $144.9 at the Costco at 20499 64 Ave., and $146.9 at the Race Trac station at 200 Street and 24 Avenue.
On Tuesday, Walnut Grove had the highest local gas prices in the community at $155.9, and prices ranged from $149.9 to $1.51.9 at other local stations.