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.

Just Posted

Trail police looking for male suspect driving red van

RCMP report the man asked a young boy to get in his vehicle

Four fires still burning in West Kootenay

More than 25 fires were started by lightning in the last week.

Castlegar police seek dawn home intruder

Man walked into house at 4 a.m., asks son about mother

Nuclear medicine temporarily suspended at KBRH

Upgrades expected to be in service by end of September

Kootenay Boundary emergency alert test coming Friday

RDKB emergency alerting system will be tested June 21 at 10:30 a.m.

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Police investigating fatal collision near Grave Lake

Grave Lake is located approximately halfway between Sparwood and Elkford

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Most Read