April Fools — your BC Ferry fares are going up again.
But it is no joke and no one is laughing as the corporation announced March 6 that it would be going ahead with its planned 4.1 per cent fare hike for all routes on April 1.
The fare changes will increase the cost for adult passengers on Route 3 (Horseshoe Bay to Langdale) by 55 cents and for passenger vehicles by $1.95, for a combined total fare of $63.60.
On Route 7 (Earls Cove to Saltery Bay), adult passenger fares will also go up 55 cents, while passenger vehicles will cost $1.90 more, for a combined total fare of $62.05.
On Route 13 (Langdale to Keats and Gambier islands), foot passengers will pay 30 cents more as one-way fares rise to $7.45.
As well, commercial vehicles on both major routes will pay 25 cents per foot more under the new rates, while buses will be charged an additional 20 cents per foot.
The fee for reservations made less than seven days in advance will also increase, from $17.50 to $18.50.
And all of this comes a day after the provincial government released its long-awaited coastal ferries consultation and engagement report, which identified high fares as the public’s top concern, but contained no recommendations to change the current system.
It’s quite laughable really that the top priority of the travelling public and coastal communities that rely on BC Ferries as their transportation network was lowering fees and that the corporation is seemingly ignoring the report — an exhaustive report that included some 40 consultation meetings late last year.
The report contains no recommendations at all and Transportation Minister Mary Polack said this week that nothing would be done until after the election — in May. What was the point in the consultation if no recommendations have been made and government is waiting even longer to act? The system is in dire financial straits, so how is waiting to do something going to help improve the system? We can understand that BC Ferries feels they have no choice but to up the fees, as they have bills to pay, but why should businesses suffer in ferry-dependent communities such as ours every time? When can we catch a break? We always get hit where it hurts as government continues to play the waiting game.
It calls into question the whole consultation system. If government isn’t prepared to respond to the concerns of the public, then why waste all our time asking for the public to respond in the first place?