Slight increase in BC Ferries fares due to rising fuel costs

Jul 15 2021, 11:07 am

Rising fuel prices and the continued forecast of escalating fuel costs are leading to a nominal uptick in fares on BC Ferries.

The ferry corporation announced today that starting on August 1, 2021, passengers will be paying 10 cents more for an adult, and 30 cents more to bring a vehicle on the major routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

For the minor inter-island routes, there will be an increase of five cents for an adult and 20 cents for a vehicle.

This translates to a reduction of the fuel rebate offered to passengers from 1.5% to 0.5%. The fuel rebate will be 0.5% on average on all routes, except for the northern routes, which have a separate structure to cover fluctuating fuel prices.

A 1.5% rebate was implemented on April 1, 2020, when fuel costs saw a downward trend from a plunge in global transportation demand due to the pandemic.

BC Ferries uses a fuel rebate and surcharge structure on fares to manage the volatility in the price of fuel. When fuel prices are lower, the savings from lower fuel costs are passed on to passengers, whereas when fuel prices are higher, there is a fuel surcharge to cover the increased cost of fuel.

The ferry corporation states it now has five vessels that operate on liquefied natural gas, which is less expensive and a cleaner fuel source than the heavy marine fuels used on most of the fleet. This includes the major mid-life modifications to the two largest vessels, Spirit of British Columbia and Spirit of Vancouver Island, completed just prior to the pandemic by adding the option of LNG-operating capability.

As well, the new Island-class vessels are hybrid-electric ships, with two already operational and four more to enter service by the end of 2022. BC Ferries is proposing to transition the initial fleet of six Island-class vessels into full-electric operations at some point in the future, and order as many as seven additional Island-class, full-electric vessels, with the possibility that these ships should be built in Canada if government funding is provided. Funding is needed for not only the vessels but also for the charging infrastructure at the terminals.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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