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BC Ferries to face penalties for missed sailings: Province

BC Ferry Commission caps fare increases at 3.2% over the next 4 years
BC Ferries’ Spirit of British Columbia departs from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal bound for Swartz Bay on the Island. (Photo by Theresa Bodger)

B.C.’s transportation minister says the province is working to implement penalties for BC Ferries for missed sailings.

In a move to improve reliability, the province is working to include penalty provisions for core-service sailings missed if there’s insufficient crew, Tranportation Minister Rob Fleming said Tuesday (Oct. 3) in a news release. Details are to come in the spring on how those penalties will be applied.

“People want to know their sailings will run as scheduled. While BC Ferries is working hard to secure additional staffing, the provision for penalties is an added measure to hold the company to account for the services it is contracted to provide.”

This year, BC Ferries has faced increased issues around cancelled sailings, out-of-service ferries and website crashes in recent months.

Fleming said this past summer has been frustrating for ferry users, “and a challenge for BC Ferries given staffing and mechanical issues.”

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It comes as BC Ferry Commission approved a fare price cap for the next four years.

Announced Tuesday (Oct. 3), the commission made its final decision to allow average ferry fares to increase by a maximum of 3.2 per cent annually from April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2028.

Commissioner Eva Hage said the increase is “markedly lower” than the preliminary 9.2 per cent proposed by the commission in March 2023, which she said is due to the additional one-time funding of $500 million from the provincial government.

“A maximum 3.2 per cent increase in annual fares will, I believe, be sufficient to allow BC Ferries to meet the financial demands of the upcoming performance term, while at the same time providing British Columbians with safe, reliable and affordable ferry service.”

The $500 million was announced in February, and is in addition to the province’s annual service fee to BC Ferries, which is just over $194 million for this fiscal year.

The province has also renewed its service contract with BC Ferries through to March 31, 2028. The Coastal Ferry Services Contract agreement between the province and BC Ferry Services Inc. is for ferry service and is renewed at the end of each four-year performance term.

The latest contract specifies the annual addition of 1,433 round-trip sailings as core services on 13 minor routes, which were previously designated as discretionary sailings.

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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