3.9% ferry fare increase; 1% fuel rebate coming April 1

Sounder News

Tuesday, March 31 2015

3.9% fare increase and 1% fuel rebate impact

Current Fare (Until March 31)

Fare after April. 1 fare increase

Pre-tax price after April 1 fuel rebate

Passenger (Full Fare)

$10.80

$11.25

$11.10

Vehicle under 20ft (Full Fare)

$25.45

$26.45

$26.15

Passenger (Experience Card)

$6.30

$6.65

$6.50

Vehicle under 20ft (Experience Card)

$15.25

$17.05

$16.75

BC Ferries confirmed this past week there will be a tariff increase approved by the BC Ferries Commissioner, effective April 1, 2015.

Fares for vehicles and passengers will rise by 3.9 per cent on average on April 1, 2015, as approved by the Ferry Commissioner in 2012 as part of Performance Term 3 (PT3).

On the northern routes between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, fares for vehicles and passengers will increase by 2 per cent on average. 

At the same time, a fuel rebate of 1 per cent will be implemented on major and minor routes. The fuel rebate will not be applied to the northern routes.

Effective April 1, 2015, the net effect for customers on the major and minor routes will be an increase on average of 2.9 per cent on the price of a ticket. The northern routes are not subject to fuel surcharges or rebates. 

The fuel surcharge/rebate mechanism is separate from the tariff calculation and any fuel rebate or surcharge is strictly a pass through from the fuel deferral accounts. With the company’s fuel hedges in place, the fuel rebate should stay in place at least through the summer months, and possibly into next year. BC Ferries will keep a close watch on the fuel deferral account balances with a view to extending the rebate as long as is practical.

John Hodgkins, Chair of the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee said, “The planned 1% fuel rebate came sooner than many of us anticipated, given that the fuel surcharge imposed last year ended little more than 3 months ago.

“It’s worth remembering, though, that a fuel rebate is triggered when the price of bulk fuel falls to the point significantly below the price that was assumed by the Ferry Commissioner when the Price Cap was originally set. For 2015, that assumed price was 99c/litre, equivalent to about $70 a barrel crude price. As we know, crude is still below $50/barrel, hence the imbalance.

“In setting the preliminary price caps for 2016-2020,  the Ferry Commissioner has based his recommendation on a fuel price of 91.5c/litre ($65/barrel) so if fuel prices stay as low as they are, the current rebate could remain all year, or even increase. Back in 2009, fuel rebates went as high as 10% at one point. If prices rise steeply, it could disappear in 3 months. Only time will tell!”

Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO said, “We know that fare affordability is an issue for our customers and because we’ve hedged a considerable amount of our diesel fuel costs over the next fiscal year, we are pleased to be in a position to introduce a fuel rebate which will help lessen the impact of the tariff increase.

“While we actively manage the business and reduce expenditures wherever possible, the fare increases are directly associated with increased operating costs and capital replacement.”

In making the announcement, BC Ferries also advised that the cost of reservations, assured loading tickets and the buy-in level for Experience Cards will not increase on April 1, 2015.

Minimum top-off for Experience Cards used to pay for Vehicle and Passenger will stay at $115; Minimum top-off for Passenger-Only cards will stay at $65.

On March 18, the BC Ferries Commissioner released the Preliminary Decision on Price Caps for the Fourth Performance Term, in which he set the increase in price caps at 1.9% for the four fiscal years starting April 1, 2016 through to 2020.