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Second fuel surcharge expected

Even though gas prices have been falling at the pump, B.C. Ferries plans to implement another fuel surcharge to cover rising gas costs on Feb. 1. The corporation asked the B.C. Ferry Commissioner for permission to raise fares by 2.

Even though gas prices have been falling at the pump, B.C. Ferries plans to implement another fuel surcharge to cover rising gas costs on Feb. 1.

The corporation asked the B.C. Ferry Commissioner for permission to raise fares by 2.5 per cent on major routes connecting Vancouver Island to the mainland and six per cent on all other routes.

Last week, commissioner Martin Crilly issued a preliminary decision to grant a price cap increase of 1.5 per cent on major routes and three per cent on all other routes effective Feb. 1. But if B.C. Ferries' fuel forecasts prove true over the next few months and prices creep back up, the commissioner said he will grant another increase effective June 12."Even though we're seeing a dip at the pump, our ships have a much higher cost of fuel than they did a year-and-a-half ago when we did our budget," B.C. Ferries media spokesperson Deborah Marshall reasoned.

She was unable to say definitely whether the possible second (June 12) increase would be the last coastal residents see this year.

"I just can't say at this point," Marshall added.

The Feb. 1 increase translates to 20 cents more per walk-on passenger, 75 cents more per under-height vehicle and $1.50 more per over-height vehicle on the Horseshoe Bay - Langdale route. Foot passengers entering the ferry by bus would pay 10 cents more.

Combined with the previous surcharge implemented on July 25, 2005, the total increases work out to 60 cents more per foot passenger, $2.25 per under-height vehicle, $4.50 per over-height vehicle and 30 cents more for foot passengers entering the ferry by bus on the Horseshoe Bay - Langdale route.

The local ferry advisory committee disapproves of the price increase on our local route and recently sent a submission to Crilly asking him to lower the increase.

The committee in its submission says the Horseshoe Bay - Langdale route should be judged on its own merits when considering a price hike rather than being lumped in with other routes that are not profitable.

"We just want the commissioner to treat us as a single route based on our own merits and we want to be treated fairly," Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee chair Ed Steeves said.

The commissioner will be considering public input on the price increase until Jan. 8 before he makes a final decision.

If you would like to comment, you can do so by mail to B.C. Ferry Commission, P.O. Box 1497, Comox, B.C. V9M 8A2 or by email info@bcferrycommission.com.

You can also visit the website www.bcferrycommission.com for details.