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Province injects $500 million into B.C. Ferries in effort to keep annual fare jumps below 3%

Report had forecast possible annual fare increases above 10%.
B.C. Ferries' terminal at Swartz Bay. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

B.C. Ferries is getting a $500-million injection from the provincial government to keep fares below inflation and help to green its fleet.

Premier David Eby, who made the half-billion-dollar announcement Sunday after marking his first 100 days in office, said the cash would come from the most recent budget surpluses. It’s the same surplus that will fund another round of affordability credits coming in April that will pay up to $164 for an estimated 85% of British Columbians, a bonus that Eby revealed on Saturday.

Eby said the impacts of global inflation will be taking a toll on ferry users over the next four years, citing the B.C. Ferries commissioner’s report of fare increases of 10.4% a year from 2024 to 2028.

“Every day, people use B.C. Ferries to get to work, and visit family and friends, as well as plan vacations,” Eby said in a Sunday statement. “We know the cost of everything continues to go up due to global inflation, but by acting now, we can prevent double-digit fare increases from hitting people who depend on our ferries.”

With the $500-million infusion, the government’s goal is to keep annual average fare increases below 3% a year.

Final fare increases will be determined by the B.C. Ferries Commission, which will determine by March 31 the preliminary annual fare increases for the next four years. The final annual fare increases will be published by Sept. 30.

The increase in core costs like fuel, along with higher inflation, are factors driving up costs.

The new money will also support greenhouse-gas-emissions reduction through electrification of vessels and other initiatives to green the fleet and operations, said a statement.

Diana Mumford, chair of the Ferry Advisory Committee, called the new funding a welcome benefit for all ferry users.

“This is especially true for those that live and work in communities reliant on ferries to travel to work, medical services or visit family,” she said. “This funding will ensure B.C. Ferries fares continue to be affordable for B.C. residents.”

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