The travel home for next month’s reading break just became a little bit more burdensome. As B.C. Ferries raise their fare prices by 3.5 per cent on Jan. 17, UVic students with family and friends on the mainland breathe an understandable collective sigh. Although the surcharge is minimal, the increase comes just three months before the Crown Corporation’s annual fare increase of four per cent, due to hit student bank accounts on April 1.
The increase applies only to passengers using motor vehicles to navigate B.C.’s island clusters. For round-trip traffic between Tsawwassen and the Gulf Islands during the regular season, the increase is only $2.75 per vehicle and an additional 90 cents per adult. However, this rises to $3.55 during the summer peak season. The change applies to those travelling to Salt Spring from Crofton or Swartz Bay by $1.15 a vehicle and 35 cents for every adult along for the ride. However, child fares will not be affected by the fare increase.
Northern terminals, Port Hardy, Prince Rupert, and Haida Gwaii, remain unaffected. However, a family of four sailing out of Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, and vice versa, can expect to be greeted with an additional $3.25 on their statement of purchase.
B.C. Ferries says the increase is an executive response to rapidly rising global fuel prices; the price of diesel rose by 14 cents per litre above the valuation B.C. Ferries uses to regulate fare caps. The company’s fuel deferral account has an outstanding balance of over $5 million dollars.
With this debt, B.C. Ferries is exploring ways of reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Smaller vessels with more sustainable fuel economies are being considered for routes that see low traffic volumes. Similarly, the corporation is looking at powering vessels with liquefied natural gas, an alternative fuel source that is purportedly cheaper than the marine diesel currently being used to power the province’s iconic watercrafts.
So, when planning future trips, keep in mind that using public transportation and buying a walk-on ticket is not only a more eco-friendly choice, it’s way cheaper.