VICTORIA, B.C. – The cost of taking a ferry in B.C. is going up as the price of fuel increases on the world market.
BC Ferries announced Tuesday that it will remove fuel rebates starting June 27.
Rebates and surcharges are used to manage the volatility of fuel prices, and BC Ferries said it doesn’t benefit financially from the mechanisms.
Ferries president and CEO Mark Collins said in an interview that over the last 14 years the company has had surcharges, rebates, and periods with neither as the market price of diesel fuel fluctuated.
“Ferry users have received rebates as often as they’ve received surcharges, so there’s no net impact on the ferry user over time,” he said.
The added costs vary depending on ferry trips, but on major routes, an extra 50 cents will be charged for passengers and $1.70 more for a vehicle.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in May that she was disappointed BC Ferries planned on removing the rebate and the government was willing to work with the company to avoid an increase.
Collins said the company discussed the issue with the government for three weeks, but couldn’t come to an agreement.
“We just couldn’t reach a resolution. We didn’t feel they were in the interests of ferry users,” he said.
Over the last year, the price of fuel has gone up sharply and the rebate should have come off some time ago, Collins said.
He acknowledged that affordable travel is important for customers and said the company uses fuel deferral accounts and hedging as tools to help reduce the impact of fluctuating fuel prices.
The added fuel cost varies with seasons, he said, noting that it could be $750,000 in the slow season and double that during a busy summer.