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Ferry fares to drop by two per cent

Anyone travelling on B.C. Ferries after Oct. 18 should find a bit of extra change in their pockets as the corporation is set to reduce fares on all routes by about two per cent. B.C.

Anyone travelling on B.C. Ferries after Oct. 18 should find a bit of extra change in their pockets as the corporation is set to reduce fares on all routes by about two per cent.

B.C. Ferries president and CEO David Hahn announced the fare reduction last Friday (Oct. 1) after reaching an agreement with the federal and provincial governments.

Under the agreement, B.C. Ferries will see $119 million in federal import taxes returned to the corporation, which the province has given the OK to be passed along directly to ferry riders.

The import taxes were initially levied on B.C. Ferries when the company purchased four Super C vessels, the Coastal Renaissance, Coastal Celebration, Coastal Inspiration and Northern Explorer from a German ship building company.

"Basically we got duty remission on the vessels, and the province has decided we can apply that towards rate relief on the minor, north and Sunshine Coast routes. And that represents about two per cent," Hahn said. "If you have a truck or camper, small car, big car, foot passengers, it doesn't matter - everybody gets two per cent reductions."

For Route 3 - Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, that reduces a single passenger fare from $12.85 to $12.60, a $0.25 reduction. Undersize vehicle fares will drop from the current $43.20 to $42.35, a savings of $0.85.

Hahn said the duty remissions means the Super C vessels will come in under their original budget.

"I think it's important for people to recognize that these four ships were delivered $150 million under budget, which is pretty significant, and that any time we can do anything to reduce fares is a win-win. It's good news," he said.

Hahn could not say how long the reduced rate will be in effect, as B.C. Ferries has just begun its year-long contract review with the province. He said it is a possibility that the two per cent reduction will be swallowed up by increases in ferry fares once the ferry commissioner sets the fare increases for the next four years next fall.

The announcement is being seen as a welcome gesture by the local Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC), which constantly lobbies for ferry fares to be kept in check.

"It's a big political bonus that they could come out with the news like that. In actual effect, two per cent on the fares is most probably not very substantial, but at least they showed the good will that they will pass something on," FAC representative Jakob Knaus said.

New Democrat ferries critic Garry Coons welcomed the news, but cautioned that the reduction doesn't mean much when you look at ferry fares over time.

"The two per cent reduction is great news for those in ferry dependent communities who have been hit hard by skyrocketing fares," he said in a news release. "The two per cent is a far cry from alleviating the last fare increase of 5.68 per cent on April 1 and the next fare hike of about the same. It also does very little to counter the more than 70 per cent fare hikes we've seen over the seven and a half years under this B.C. Liberal government."

New schedule

The new fare rates take effect one week after the Route 3 schedule changes to its winter schedule, which will be in effect from Oct. 12 until April next year.

The winter schedule keeps relatively close to the current schedule, but sailings leaving Langdale are scheduled five to 25 minutes earlier as the day goes on. Sailings from Horseshoe Bay follow a similar pattern, with sailings departing within five to 30 minutes of their current times. Under the new schedule, there is a daily 5:30 p.m. sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale. To see the complete new schedule, visit