Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee (SCFAC) sent a letter of appeal this week to B.C. Ferries Commissioner Martin Crilly, imploring him to lower the fuel surcharge and judge Route 3 on its own merits.
The SCFAC decided to draft the letter after the commissioner approved another fuel surcharge of 9.6 per cent for the Langdale to Horseshoe Bay run (Route 3) on June 22.
The surcharge is meant to cover the increasing cost of gasoline paid by the ferry corporation. Most routes have 21 months to make up the difference and balance their accrual accounts.
"Our Route 3 will balance the accrual account within the next 12 months by charging 9.6 per cent. Even the major routes have time for 21 months (end of March 2008) to balance their accrual accounts. Why force travellers to pay in advance? We gain the impression that our Route 3 is again discriminated against, as so many times in the past," the letter to Crilly said.
SCFAC members suggest in the letter that Crilly should lower the fuel surcharge to give Route 3 more time to balance the account. A surcharge maximum of 5.5 per cent would balance Route 3's accrual account by March 2008, said the letter.
The group also noted ridership on Route 3 ferry has gone down by 23,541 passengers in the last year.
"We interpret this as a sign that the cost of ferry travel is affecting the ridership negatively. We are keen to know whether you and/or B.C. Ferries have researched the likely impact this new 9.6 per cent unjustified and exorbitant additional fuel surcharge will have on the already contracting ridership," the letter stated.
The group asked to have Route 3 judged on its own merits including the length of trip versus cost charged to passengers.
In their letter they compare a major route of 30 miles one way at $38.60 for an underheight vehicle and Route 3 (20 miles round trip) at $37.20.
For overheight vehicles the Coast pays more, $65.75 on Route 3 versus $65.25 on a major route.
"In view of what we have written above we appeal to you to amend your decision 06-03 to the effect that: to separate our Route 3 out of the other routes and treat us as the separate group 2 and levy on our Route 3, with immediate effect, a surcharge maximum of 5.5 per cent. Looking forward to your accepting our appeal and amending our fuel surcharge to a maximum 5.5 per cent," the letter ends.
SCFAC chair Ed Steeves said he was not sure the letter would make much difference when sending it off earlier this week.
"It would be a surprise if there was any change, but if we don't shout and holler, they'll think we like it," he added.