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Further 12 percent increase in ferry fares allowed *

Last January the British Columbia ferry commissioner recommended keeping fare increases to the rate of inflation. Today he announced approval for a 12 percent hike over the next three years. *

The cap on ferry fares will increase by 4.1 percent on April 1, 2013, by four percent a year later, and by 3.9 percent the year after that, commissioner Gord Macatee announced today.

The increase is four times larger than the rise in the consumer price index in the 12 months up to August 2012, according to the most recent figures available from Statistics Canada.

In a Jan. 25, 2012, report to the provincial government prepared after a wide consultation, Macatee wrote, "The province should consider increasing the taxpayer-funded subsidy it provides to the ferry operator so fare increases can be held to the rate of inflation."

In that report he noted that fares had gone up since 2003 by 47 percent on the major routes and by 80 percent on the minor and northern routes. Over the same period the province's consumer price index went up by just 14 percent.

At the same time the provincial government's contributions to the ferry system had failed to keep up with inflation, he said.

Despite the fare increase, Macatee's announcement said, BC Ferries will need to find $54.2 million in cuts over the four year performance term. Cuts to service are expected to account for $30 million of that.

* Update, Oct. 2, 2012: Due to compounding, the increase in price cap works out to 12.5 percent, not 12 percent, over three years.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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