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Further fare hikes approved for BC Ferries

Ferry fares will likely rise again April 1 after ferry commissioner Martin Crilly today approved price cap increases on all 25 of British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.'s regulated routes.

The commissioner approved a 2.68 percent increase on the three major routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland and a 5.68 percent jump on all other routes.

“This will result in adjustments to passenger and vehicle fares effective April 1, 2010, with the dollar amounts to be published by B.C. Ferries in due course,” the commissioner's announcement said.

In two cases B.C. Ferries fares are now below the amount they are allowed to charge, meaning the northern routes may see an additional hike of 4.2 percent and the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale route may go up by a further 3.4 percent.

“These increases in fares will definitely result in less ridership and more difficulty for [B.C. Ferries],” said New Democratic Party ferry critic Gary Coons. “It's a vicious circle that the [Coastal Ferry Act] has created.”

The increase will hurt many businesses and other organizations that depend on tourism, he said.

The B.C. Government is reviewing the legislation that governs the ferries and the fares should be kept stable until that process is complete, he said. “Many British Columbians feel strongly that Victoria's experiment in trying to make B.C. Ferries run like a profitable company rather than operate efficiently as an integral part of the highways system has failed miserably.”

The commission has posted the reasons for Crilly's decision along with a chart showing that since 2003 fares have risen by 40 percent on the major routes and 60 percent on the minor routes on its website.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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