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

Two vehicle incident at Leckie and Baron

UPDATE: 5:56 p.m. RCMP is on the scene at a two-vehicle crash… Continue reading

Grounded: Kelowna Falcons early season struggles continue

The Falcons move to 2-8 after another loss Monday night

Collision on Harvey Avenue and Dillworth Drive

The road should be cleared up momentarily

UBC Okanagan soccer season gets early start

Both men’s and women’s Heat squad gear up for early start to new season

UPDATE: Grass fire sparks in West Kelowna near Carrington Road

Kelowna firefighters coming to aid West Kelowna fire department

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

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

Shuswap car dealership seeks return of unique stolen Jeep

The red 1989 four-by-four was taken from Salmon Arm GM’s lot early Monday morning.

College investigates Okanagan physiotherapist

Stephen Witvoet’s matters are currently before the courts

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

MPs hear retired South Okanagan nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

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

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

Okanagan library branch back in business after Monday closure

Discovery of unknown powdery substance in Vernon book return prompts evacuation, closure

Hergott: Contribution and Expectation of a will

Lawyer Paul Hergott continues his column on wills

Most Read