Parksville-Qualicum MLA criticizes NDP on ferry fares

BC Ferries eliminates fuel rebate, travellers to pay more

Travellers on BC Ferries will have to pay slightly more money for their trips beginning later this month, as the company has announced it is axing its fuel rebate program.

Blaming the change on world fuel market conditions, BC Ferries said it is removing all fuel rebates currently in place on June 27, 2018, meaning travellers on many routes will have to pay roughly three per cent more.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell criticized Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena Wednesday (June 13) in a news release “for the handling of BC Ferries today following the announcement of the removal of the fuel subsidy rebates from fares.”

In the news release, Stilwell referenced a letter Trevena sent to BC Ferries board chairman Donald Hayes in May “saying she was ‘surprised and disappointed’ to hear they would be removing the fuel rebates of 2.9 per cent on major and minor routes and 1.9 per cent on northern routes.”

BC Ferries’ president Mark Collins responded saying the provincial government had known about plans to cut the fuel rebate since November.

RELATED: BC Ferries freezes plans to nix fuel rebates pending government funds

“I fail to see how the minister could claim to be surprised when her staff has been in the loop for over half a year,” added Stilwell. “She knew this was coming, and failed to act to ensure that fares would be frozen for passengers as per her promise.”

In its budget, the NDP promised to freeze ferry fares on all three major routes.

RELATED: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

The fuel rebate program had been in place since the spring of 2016 and often changes between a rebate or surcharge depending on the volatility in the price of fuel. BC Ferries said they do not benefit financially from this mechanism.

The removal of the fuel rebate means those travelling on the Metro Vancouver-Vancouver Island routes will pay $0.50 more per person and an additional $1.70 per vehicle.

Those travelling on a variety of northern, or other minor routes, will pay an additional $0.30 per person and $.70 per vehicle.

“Over the past 14 years, we’ve had fuel surcharges, fuel rebates and periods with neither, depending on the market price of diesel fuel, so over the years it has basically been neutral for our customers,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ president and CEO.

“We know that the affordability of travel is important to our customers, and we use fuel deferral accounts and fuel hedging as tools to help reduce the impact that fluctuating fuel prices have on the cost of ferry travel.”

BC Ferries says it closely monitors the cost of fuel and applies a rebate or surcharge based on the volatility in price of fuel under a regulatory process that is independent of tariffs.

— NEWS Staff

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