Ferry fares’ ripple effect hurts economy: study

Ridership is down across the BC Ferries fleet, and a report for local governments argues that fares have risen too far

Coastal class ferries at Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. Ridership is down across the BC Ferries fleet

Rising ferry fares and declining traffic are costing the economy millions more than the revenues accruing to BC Ferries, according to a study prepared for discussion at this month’s local government convention.

Based on what it is calling the first ever “socio-economic” study of ferry use and costs, the Union of B.C. Municipalities executive is recommending the province reverse its November 2013 decision to continue raising ferry rates beyond the rate of inflation.

The report refers to passenger declines of 20 to 40 per cent on northern routes, 10 to 20 per cent on minor routes and five to eight per cent on major routes. The report finds that “ferry ridership declines run counter to the trend of transportation volume increases in most other modes of transport in B.C., including vehicle and air transport.”

The report estimates that if fare increases had been kept to the rate of inflation, passenger volumes would have grown by 19 per cent over the past decade, adding $2.3 billion to the province’s gross domestic product.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone and previous ministers have argued that ridership declines have been seen on Interior ferries that charge no fares, and on other travel affected by rising fuel prices.

The UBCM wants the provincial government to take a “pause” in rate increases set by B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee.

Current rate caps allow for maximum increases of four per cent this year and 3.9 per cent in 2015.

The UBCM membership will debate the report and recommendations at its annual convention in Whistler Sept. 24.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Fraser Health Overdose Alert.
Fraser Health issues Overdose Alert for Surrey

Health authority reports spike of overdoses in the last 24 hours

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read