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BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast: **Prices subject to change without notice**
03-17-2013, 08:19 AM, (This post was last modified: 04-06-2014, 08:07 AM by Skook.)
BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast: **Prices subject to change without notice**
On April 1, BC Ferries will increase fares to the Sunshine Coast by 4%. Next year, if approved by the BC Ferry Commission, fares will increase another 4%; and, the year after that, in 2015, it's another 4%. That's what BC Ferries says its needs to cover its cost - and increase of 12% spread over 3 years.

I think I still have that ferry stub somewhere in a box for September, 1995 when I moved to the coast; but, I am not going to hunt for it. The amount of $26.00 (1 car/1 passenger) seems to stick in my mind because I thought it was quite cheap not even realizing it was a round trip fare - I was moving from Edmonton. I settled in north of Pender Harbour and I think it wasn't until three years later that I took advantage of that already paid for second trip. Everything that I needed could be found on the coast and most of it in Pender Harbour or Egmont: doctors, dentist, grocery store, hardware store, pubs, general stores and gas station - all the essentials were within a half hour drive. Yeah, life was good.

I think between 2000 and 2004 I made one or two trips into Vancouver but I was always a passenger and didn't pay too much attention to the overall cost. I know it was increasing but not by much. I think it was mid-way through 2004 when oil hit $50.00 a barrel that BC Ferries began to groan and by mid-2005 the first fuel surcharge was introduced. Now, I just happen to have all my ferry stubs from 2006-2010 and I dug them out of my income tax file box the other night and the table below is the result:

[Image: attachment.php?aid=55]

Yes, 2006 was quite a year for those on the Sunshine Coast - you had no idea what you would be paying at the booth to get back on the ferry at Horseshoe Bay. Daily commuters had always had the option of buying books of tickets (a separate book for the vehicle and another for passengers) for a cheaper fare; however,they would have to pay the fuel surcharge as an extra fee. Over the next couple of years there were quite a few meetings on the coast over these rising fares. After my marathon year of 2006, I stayed close to home in 2007 so I can't verify the fares that year. BC Ferries has all the fares from 2008 to today up on its website.

BC Ferries got real cute on April 1, 2008 by aping the accommodations industry and dividing the year into Off Peak, Shoulder and Peak. The first covered the dead months of November, January and February when no one wants to travel because of the weather or because they are too broke. Shoulder covered March to June and October and December - covering most of the stat holidays when locals might want off the coast. And, Peak, well you guessed - the tourist months of July, August and September. So, now BC Ferries angered not only the resort and motel owners on the coast but all the tourist-based businesses and associations. This pricing system lasted one year.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=56]

On April 1, 2009, BC Ferries did away with the books of tickets and introduced the Experience Card. Like the tickets it reduced the cost of a vehicle by about $10.00 and a passenger's fare by about $3.00. You're required to keep a minimum level on the card to get those lower fees. Today its $95.00 for a vehicle with passenger(s) and $55.00 for passengers only. Again, this card makes sense for those using the ferry on a regular or daily basis. The table below shows fares from 2009 to today including the fare projections for 2014 and 2015 for a car with two passengers.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=57]

There is nothing like a chart to give you an overall view of ferry costs over time and here it is below. The years 1995 - 2006 are just a guess as is 2007 and those years along with 2014 - 2015 are highlighted in orange. All the other data is accurate. Also, I used the 2008 Peak fares since they would impact tourism on the coast and these slid in quite well with what was to follow. I can't remember what year BC Ferries introduced its reservation system but to use it will add to your cost which for the Sunshine Coast is currently $15.00 for 7 or more days advanced notice or $17.50 for less than 7 days advanced notice.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=58]

Now, imagine if you lived in Powell River.

Note: BC Ferries keeps only five years of historical fares data on its website and will begin removing 2008 data on April 1. If you think you might want to search fares in the future, you might want to head to the archive page and save the .pdfs. I could not find fares data anywhere else in my searches. Here is the link to BC Ferries archive fares page:

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03-18-2013, 12:54 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-17-2013, 01:18 PM by Skook.)
Re: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
Those dependent on ferries to get them to the lower mainland have been complaining about costs since they seriously started rising in 2003. Well, they now have a 'bitchin' blog they can turn to that was set up in 2012.

You can read posts by scrolling down and many are from those living on the SC or those travelling up the SC to get to Powell River. The posts are an interesting read and some refer to a proposal coming out of Powell River and you can get the details here:

A few weeks back, I was musing about a "fixed" link - could a bridge be built from Horseshoe Bay over to Bowen Island, then over to Keats Island and onto Langdale or Gibsons (ignoring costs and the home owner outrage where the spans would land...LOL). Unfortunately, the mouth of Howe Sound has a depth of around 200 metres and it increases to 283 metres further up around Furrey Creek and its about 100 metres outside Squamish. Just for comparison, the spot where the Confederation Bridge crosses the Cavendish Strait to PEI has a maximum depth of 30 metres. Yep, scratch that idea.

Any of you armchair engineers have suggestions Huh How about a photo shop image to get your idea across. Big Grin
09-17-2013, 11:18 AM, (This post was last modified: 09-17-2013, 01:29 PM by Skook.)
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
Grab a coffee and kick back. This is a long one...

It has been a while since I’ve given BC Ferries any attention. I have actually been thinking about ferry travel between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale especially as of last month when I looked at the Benchmark Price Index page including in the REBGV July stats package; but, more on that in a moment.

What has prompted this post is a news story that appeared last week in the SC’s Coast Reporter:

Quote:Province to get an earful on ferry cuts
September 13, 2013
John Gleeson/Staff Writer

Premier Christy Clark and the new minister responsible for BC Ferries will get an earful at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention next week, if local government leaders on the Sunshine Coast have their way. Hoping to ward off expected cuts to the coastal ferry service, a delegation of chairs and mayors from all ferry-dependent communities will meet with the premier and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone during the convention, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) chair Garry Nohr told members of the transportation advisory committee on Sept. 9. And in an effort to put greater pressure on the provincial government, the committee voted to ask the heads of ferry-dependent communities to also hold a press conference during the convention, spelling out the potential impact of cuts on coastal economies.

“The only way to respond is to make this a media issue,” said District of Sechelt Coun. Doug Hockley, who suggested the press conference. “To me, pull the pin on the grenade, throw it under the table and see what happens.” Hockley pitched the idea after the committee heard from Nohr that Stone had declined a requested meeting with a Sunshine Coast delegation during the convention, which runs from Sept. 16 to 20 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Last month, the province announced it was hiring a consultant to develop “a route-specific ferry adjustment plan to ensure the sustainability of the ferry system.” Public consultation on the plan, which is intended to save $19 million by 2016, is scheduled for November and December.

Barry Cavens, chair of the southern Sunshine Coast ferry advisory committee, brought his request for a needs assessment to the Sept. 9 transportation meeting, “so we go into these hearings with expectations of what we want as a community.” But Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar said the process was “mystifying,” after last year’s round of public consultation on the issue. “We attended all those meetings,” Shugar said. “It was clear that people of the Sunshine Coast had a vision that this is part of our highway system and the province had to recognize that.”

“I don’t think the government learned from that process,” Cavens said.

“In other words,” Shugar said, “they didn’t get the answer they wanted.”

Nohr, who said it was obvious to him from the start of the consultation process last year that “it was pre-programmed,” called for a constructive approach, rather than to “react and bitch about it.” “I think we have to go with a view to saying what we’re prepared to do to keep costs down and how they can possibly do a better job,” Nohr said. One idea, he said, is to propose that BC Ferries offer a family package, with three or four trips at a reduced rate, from October to May.

“That alone would bring hundreds more people over,” he said.

Hockley, however, expressed skepticism about the provincial government’s willingness to listen. “I’ve been hearing this for 16 years. Nothing’s happening,” Hockley said. “They don’t care what their cutbacks mean. They’ve already decided. This is just tokenism.”

West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull agreed. “We’ve had a huge lack of response here,” Turnbull said.

The issue, Hockley said, “needs to be blown up to the press so it ends up on the table of politicians.”

In response to Cavens’ call for a community needs assessment, directors agreed that the southern Sunshine Coast ferry advisory committee should develop a proposal and that Cavens should present it at a future SCRD infrastructure services committee meeting.”

This Coast Reporter piece followed on the heels of this August news story

Quote:FAC chair wants needs assessment
August 23, 2013
John Gleeson/Staff Writer

The public will have a chance later this year to respond to plans for cutting costs on BC Ferries, but the chair of the southern Sunshine Coast ferry advisory committee wants to see a community needs assessment first. “The way I read it, they’re going to consult with the people after BC Ferries and the government decide what is appropriate,” Barry Cavens said in an Aug. 21 interview. “I think we as a community should decide what we want first.”

Last week the provincial government issued a request for proposals (RFP), inviting consultants to bid on a contract that would include developing “a route-specific ferry adjustment plan to ensure the sustainability of the ferry system.” Public consultation on the new plan is expected to take place in November and December, as the province attempts to realize $19 million in cost savings by 2016.

Cavens said the RFP “seems to be referring to the sustainability of BC Ferries and the government,” not the communities being served by BC Ferries’ 25 routes. “What we need is a needs assessment to see what we need in terms of service on the Sunshine Coast — in order to make the Sunshine Coast sustainable,” he said.

The RFP follows last year’s $1-million public consultation process, and Cavens noted that it was “inferred” by government officials at the packed meetings in Gibsons that low-volume sailings such as the first Sunday morning run and some night runs could be on the chopping block. “We have to ask who’s on those sailings,” Cavens said “Are they people going to work? It’s more than just the numbers. It’s how it affects the community if those needs aren’t met.”

While the community did speak loud and clear during last year’s consultations, Cavens said that after reading the RFP he is not confident the concerns raised will be reflected in the service adjustment plan. “As a community we have to ask, ‘What do we need?’” he said. “Maybe we need smaller boats going every hour. Is there a better model in the long term?”

Cavens said he intends to bring the issue to the table at next month’s regional transportation advisory committee meeting, “and see if there’s a desire amongst the community to put something together as a document to have the government look at as part of the consultation process.” The timing is critical, he added. “If we don’t have something for this round of consultation, we’re going to be locked into something for the next 10 or 20 years. If we don’t have that discussion, what’s the impact going to be?” he said.

Apart from smaller vessels, another idea that was suggested during the Gibsons meetings was augmenting the current ferry service with one small vessel for foot passengers only. “Those are the kinds of things we need to hear from people,” Cavens said. “I think we need a fresh look at what is required. This is one opportunity.” A submission from the community will also remind the province that BC Ferries is providing a vital service to the Coast, he said. “It sends out a message that we care about our ferry service, and as a region we want to have as much say as possible in any changes to it.”

The deadline for bids is Aug. 27, and the implementation date for service adjustments is March 2014.”

There was also a Victoria Times Colonist piece on August 9, 2013, ‘The refitting of B.C. Ferries’. The Jack Knox article was picked up by others in the newspaper chain appearing as ‘Smooth sailing doesn’t come cheap at BC Ferries’. Knox was writing about the constraints facing BC Ferry Corporation and a major impending issue…

Quote:“…On-board staffing is dictated by federal transportation safety rules. Likewise, the corporation has little say in where or how often its ships sail; that’s all laid out in its contract with the provincial government. Not much it can do about fuel prices, either. The result is that the great bulk of BC Ferries’ costs are beyond its control.

Meanwhile, it operates with a level of government subsidy far lower than that of comparable ferry systems, with the province stubbornly pushing BC Ferries toward a user-pay model even as critics scream that rising fares are pushing ridership — and therefore revenue — down.

As it wriggles away in this straitjacket, more financial pressures are coming. The big ships on the major routes have been replaced, but many of those on the intermediate and minor runs have passed their best-before date. “Our minor fleet is 35 years old, on average,” says BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan. “That’s an old ferry fleet.” The question then, as the corporation heads into Phase 2 of its fleet-renewal program, is how they’re going to pay for it all.

Knox goes on to detail the 34 ferry ships that ply the water of the intermediate and minor runs including…
  • QUEEN OF COQUITLAM. Built: 1976. Capacity: 360 cars (including 12 semis), 1,488 people. Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay-Langdale. Refit in 2003 was meant to extend life 20 years.
  • QUEEN OF SURREY. Built: 1981; Capacity: 360 cars (including 12 semis), 1,488 people. Horseshoe Bay to Langdale.
  • NORTH ISLAND PRINCESS. Built: 1958, the year Ford made the Edsel. Capacity: 49 cars, 150 people. Sails between Powell River and Texada Island.
  • QUEEN OF CAPILANO. Built: 1991. Capacity: 85 cars, 451 people. Travels between Horseshoe Bay and Bowen Island. Vessel to undergo mid-life upgrade in 2015.
  • BOWEN QUEEN. Built in 1965. Capacity: 70-car, 400-passenger Augments Southern Gulf Islands-Salt Spring Island-Tsawwassen run in July and August and serves as a relief ship.
  • MAYNE QUEEN. Built in 1965, 70-car 400 passenger open-deck ferry serves between Swartz Bay and outer Gulf Islands.
  • POWELL RIVER QUEEN.Built in 1965, 68-car 400 passenger vessel shuttles between Campbell River and Quadra Island.

Now, keep all this ferry news in the back of your mind.

So what has the benchmark price index to do at all with ferries, you may ask. When I prepared my analysis of Sunshine Coast Benchmark prices in my ‘Interpreting Sunshine Coast Real Estate Sales - The 3 Amigos’ thread in August, I looked at that REBGV Home Price Index data sheet and asked myself, is there any market area within the REBGV showing the same number of negative readings across time spans as the Sunshine Coast. I notice one area and you can see it highlighted along with the Sunshine Coast on the August HPI sheet below…

[Image: attachment.php?aid=427]

So, what has the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island have in common? Here are two common denominators: a large recreational property owner base and commuters that head to lower mainland for work. How do either get to and from Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast? There is only one way - a ferry.

Is it possible that the cost of ferry travel has begun to have such a profound affect that it is playing a significant role in both the BI and SC moribund real estate markets? I am beginning to think so and I here is my own anecdotal evidence for the Sunshine Coast.

When I first arrived on the coast in ’95, you couldn’t turn around in the summer without running into a tourist. Cheap fuel and cheap ferries meant lower mainland residents were taking day trips on the weekends to escape the city. It meant pleasure craft tied up three across at government wharfs during the peak weeks in July and August. It meant nightmare drives on the coast highway and getting stuck behind pick-ups with campers and lots of RVs. It meant bumper to bumper traffic from Sechelt to the ferry terminal; and sailing waits at the height of the season. Above all, it meant that recreational property owners (the vast majority from the lower mainland) could afford to escape the city every weekend - being only 2 hours from the city was the major reason they bought on the SC.

It was a different world by 2007. Daytrippers - long gone. Government wharfs - no problem tying up now and the pleasure crafts had been replaced by cheap to operate sailboats. Highway travel - piece of cake even on weekends. Ferry travel - no need to leave a few hours early to be first in line and no more sailing waits except for the few long weekends over summer. And the recreational property owners - well, they’re only showing up on the long weekends, too, or when they’ve booked off blocks of holidays from work. The ones I had got to know over the years all admitted they could no longer afford the trip up from the city on a regular basis. All of this has had a profound economic impact over the past decade for SC businesses that depend on tourists for their survival.

So, here's what it costs now to take a ferry to BI (on the left) and the SC (on the right)…

[Image: attachment.php?aid=428]

In my first post in this thread, I traced in tables and a chart how the path of ferry costs for the Sunshine Coast for a single vehicle with two passengers. That cost now stands at $78.15 and next April will increase 4% and the year after that by another 4% so that by April 1, 2015 that SC return trip will be $84.52.

Now, think back to the first news article above. Not only do we know ahead of time that fares are going up 8% over the next two years, but BC Ferries says it still isn’t enough to meet its operating costs so now they have to cut back on scheduled sailings - it’s “been there, done that” already for SC residents. BC Ferries is caught in a vicious cycle of raising fares to meet costs which leads to lost ridership then raising fares again to make up for that lost revenue only resulting in further lost ridership…ad infinitum.

This is where ‘commuters’ come into play. Ten years ago, when RE prices began their climb in the lower mainland there were many who cashed out, bought cheap on Sunshine Coast and banked some nice change. Those still working in the city settled in somewhere between Gibsons and Sechelt and commuted daily - back then they could afford to, but now? I doubt it. Even if they take advantage of the BC Ferries ‘Experience Card’ the costs are adding up. What has to been remembered is that card requires a minimum “load” and here are the details plus important info about reservations (think sailing cutbacks here)…

Quote:Q: What is the minimum load amount [needed on the card] to receive savings?
A: The minimum load amount for Vehicle and/or Passenger savings is $105.00. The minimum load amount for Passenger-only savings is $60.00.

Q. Will BC Ferries Experience™ cardholders receive a specific number of trips for loading the minimum amount?
A. No. Loading the minimum amount entitles a BC Ferries Experience™ cardholder to access the reduced fares for either passengers or vehicles and passengers respectively at the current price at the time of travel.

Loading a minimum amount does not entitle a specific number of trips and there must be sufficient balance on the card to cover the entire fare. Customers will be charged the current reduced fare. If there is not sufficient balance on the card to cover the applicable reduced fare, customers will be charged the full cash fare.


Each one-way reservation is charged a non-refundable reservation fee as follows:
  • $15.00 if made 7 or more days in advance of the sailing's scheduled departure date, or
  • $18.50 if made less than 7 days in advance of travel.

For example, if you make a one-way reservation on Monday for the following Monday, the fee will be $15.00. If you make a reservation on Tuesday for the following Monday, the fee will be $18.50. So you can save money by booking 7 or more days in advance of travel.

If you need to change a reservation, a $9.00 change fee will apply.

The non-refundable fee is paid by credit card during this on-line transaction when you confirm your reservation.

Even if commuters are driving to the ferry, parking, and walking on, the costs are mounting. I would not be at all surprised to learn that many of the homes now for sale from Gibsons to Sechelt are owned by those who can no longer afford to live on the coast and commute to the city for work. Also, that many of the rec properties particularly north in the Pender Harbour are on the market because the owners are saying. “What’s the point if we can only afford to go a few times a year? We might as well sell and buy somewhere else within a four hour drive.”

As I mentioned, lost ferry sailings is not a new issue for the coast. When it happened before, the hue and cry came from those with young children on sports team who wouldn’t be able to get to and back from scheduled games (many on weekends) in the city all in the same day. Well, there aren’t as many households with young children on the coast anymore and school amalgamations confirm this. I wonder why?

How can the ferry issue not be a key factor affecting real estate on the SC and BI? If you are currently living in either area or looking at properties in either market, you have to be weighing that added cost (which continues to mount) especially if your work, interests, and family needs are taking you into the city on a regular basis. Now, with the threat of fewer sailings, the issue is becoming critical not only for Sunshine Coast but for all BC communities dependent on BC Ferries for their survival.

Yes, the Premier and her minister should brace for an earful.

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09-18-2013, 08:57 AM,
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
Thanks for the update skook, I'd agree undoubtedly ferry cost is definately a major factor affecting sunshine coast prices. I actually prefer the current situation to the 2005 scenario, but I'm one of those crazy people that doesn't necessarily enjoy unlimited growth Big Grin

It will be interesting to see how the fare increase play out, they definitely economically choke these communities. The third crossing project would be a huge potential boost, but it's a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Populations dwindle because they are economically choked off and without the population there's no big push to improve transportation.
09-18-2013, 09:51 AM,
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast

Again, a lot of good work putting this thread together. But... what are your conclusions? If you think prices are too high on the SC, the last thing you would want was easier access.

The realtors (K. McKenzie for one) want improved (and cheaper) ferry traffic - so they can sell more real estate to commuters and geezers (like me.) So, if they want it, can it be good?

My modest suggestions to help speed this along:

1. Increase the fares.

2. Decrease the sailings - ideally to about two a day

3. Remove the free tickets for geezers (Mon. to Thurs.)

4. Encourage self-sufficiency among the remaining residents.

Perhaps this would reduce the population to a more reasonable 5000 (instead of the present 30000.)

In your missive to Vancouver Price Drop, you said real estate in Gibsons was dead. Apparently that isn't the case as about 7 properties within my vicinity sold in the last 2 weeks. I even saw ole' Kenan a couple of days as he was putting a sold sign on 556 Seaview. He had a grin to put Alice's Cheshire cat to shame. Is this the dead cat bounce? Or does insanity still rule?
09-19-2013, 08:16 AM,
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
Thanks, Wreckonomics and punnoval, for your comments.

Yes, Wreckonomics, the third crossing project is likely the only solution at least for the SC. I can’t help but wonder if the Premier and Minister of Transportation might say this to the communities attending the Union of BC Municipalities, “Our hands are tied regarding BC Ferries because provincial revenues are too low; however, if you throw your support behind oil and gas development and new pipelines we might be able to talk.” It should be interesting to hear what comes out of that meeting this week.

Well, punnoval, Sechelt Mayor Zoom Zoom and the FABS gang (now ‘disbanded’ until the next municipal election) would be apoplectic after reading your four suggestions…LOL. No doubt about it, life as we know it on the SC would take a dramatic turn if they ever came to pass; but, like you and Wreckonomics, it wouldn’t bother me in the least. Well, the direction BC Ferries is heading means some of your suggestions may come to pass - like no more free rides for walk-on seniors, and further sailing cut-backs. It has to happen unless the provincial government begins to heavily subsidize ferries.

As for my statement about Gibsons at VPD, I was basing that on the August sales stats for the Sunshine Coast. In Gibsons, Year-to-Date sales for all property types (Detached, Attached, and Land) are down 19.4% (-19.4%) compared to 2012. Looking at only single detached home sales the results are even worse with Year-to-Sales down 25.4% (-25.4%) compared to 2012. Those recent sales you mention aren’t going to help Gibsons climb out of this deep hole.

It will be interesting to see the individual value of those homes sales. Overall, if they are under $350,000, then my guess they have been purchased by retirees looking for the best bargain and, thus, will contribute little to Gibsons overall economic well-being (no job creation, no big purchases, etc).
09-19-2013, 10:46 AM,
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
Just watch for people connected with ministry of transportation to start buying up land on the sunshine coast, then you'll know the third crossing road is going to be coming soon Smile

Until then it's ever increasing ferry prices and falling house prices.
09-28-2013, 06:05 PM,
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
In honour of Mr Garry Nohr's Visit with Christy Clark at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver (as reported in The Coast Reporter, Sept. 27, 2013.)

A reworking of the schlockoid 50's tune "Que Sera, Sera":

When I went to Vancouver
I asked Christy, what will it be
Will there be more ferries?
Will they be cheap?

After flashing a smile
As wide as a mile
This is what she said to me

Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see*
Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be

* except for LNG, which is on the schedule to make zillions.
11-18-2013, 05:55 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-18-2013, 07:39 PM by Skook.)
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
Today, a provincial government announcement ensures that early next year living on the Sunshine Coast will more expensive for some and for most likely more inconvenient. Here is the full Times Colonist news story with the details.

Quote:B.C. announces cuts to ferry routes, no more free rides for seniors and maybe gambling
By Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist November 18, 2013

The B.C. government will eliminate free ferry rides for seniors, introduce gambling on some sailings and reduce a host of minor routes as part of cutbacks announced today.

The changes will see free ferry rides for seniors eliminated, with the elderly now paying 50 per cent of regular fares on major and minor routes, said Transportation Minister Todd Stone. Previously, seniors sailed for free Monday to Thursday [**See my comment below]. The move will save $6 million a year. "All savings would be redirected to the ferry transportation fee . . . thereby reducing the pressure for fare increases beginning in 2016," said Stone.

The government is also "considering" a pilot project to introduce slot machines on sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. Gaming revenue would also be used to help reduce the pressure on fares," said Stone.

B.C. Ferries is also slashing minor coastal routes, with the Skidegate-Alliford Bay, Port Hardy-Prince Rupert, Skidegate-Prince Rupert, Texada Island-Powell River and Gabriola Island-Nanaimo Harbour routes hardest hit, with as much as 35 per cent cuts to sailings. "These are tough decisions and there will be impacts," said Stone. The Port-Hardy to mid coast to Bella Coola route will be cancelled entirely during summer months, the government said.

The changes come into effect in April 2014.

The major routes between Nanaimo, Victoria and the Lower Mainland will also be changed to save $4.9 million by 2016, the government said, though few details were released. Additional savings will also be found on major routes, particularly Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, and Duke Point to Tsawwassen, where the government will re-evaluate how to connect mid-Vancouver Island ferries to the mainland.

The cutbacks come as part of $18.9 million in savings the government has ordered B.C. Ferries to find during the next three years. The amount was originally higher, but the Liberal government forgave an additional $7.1 million in proposed cuts shortly before the May provincial election.

The route reductions are necessary because the quasi-private ferry company – which receives more than $180 million a year in government subsidies – is facing historically low ridership and billions in debt, the government has said.

B.C. Ferries has spent the last several years being urged by government to cut internal costs as it tries to limit millions in annual losses. The ferry company posted what it called a “modest profit” of $15 million in the last fiscal year, though critics noted it was only possible because of an extra $21.5 million in government subsides, as part of an $80 million four-year bail-out package.

Service adjustments to specific coastal ferry routes

The Province has set an objective of $18.9 million in total net savings to be achieved through service reductions by 2016. The prime focus is on lower-use round trip sailings on the minor routes, and on the higher-cost northern routes, accounting for $14 million in net savings. These service adjustments will be implemented in 2014.

BC Ferries will also be implementing further changes to the major routes prior to April 2016 (Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen to Duke Point) to achieve $4.9 million in savings by 2016. Minor and northern routes will not be affected by these changes.

In addition, analysis will continue on opportunities to achieve additional savings and efficiencies, beyond the initial $4.9 million in reductions announced today, on the major routes, particularly Route 2 (Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay) and Route 30 (Duke Point to Tsawwassen). Analysis will continue of opportunities to achieve additional savings and efficiencies on Southern Gulf Island routes.

Routes affected:

Langdale - Horseshoe Bay [Sunshine Coast]
  • Annual utilization rate: 54.5 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 2,985
  • Annual round trip reductions: 40 (1.3 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $200,000
Earls Cove - Saltery Bay [Sunshine Coast]
  • Annual utilization rate: 26.3 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 2,878
  • Annual round trip reduction: 365 (12.7 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $750,000
Comox - Powell River [Sunshine Coast]
  • Annual utilization rate: 29.6 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 1,460
  • Annual round trip reductions: 94 (6.4 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $720,000
Texada Island - Powell River [Sunshine Coast]
  • Annual utilization rate: 25.6 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 3,648
  • Annual round trip reductions: 834 (22.9 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $950,000
Horseshoe Bay - Bowen Island
  • Annual utilization rate: 50.7 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 5,569
  • Annual round trip reductions: 234 (4.2 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $270,000
Vesuvius Harbour - Crofton
  • Annual utilization rate: 35.5 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 5,046
  • Annual round trip reductions: 605 (12 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $210,000
Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands
  • Annual utilization rate: 42.2 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 830
  • Annual round trip reductions: schedule change only; no round trip reductions
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $180,000
Port Hardy - Prince Rupert
  • Annual utilization rate: 39 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 122
  • Annual round trip reductions: 39 (32 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $3,820,000
Skidegate - Prince Rupert
  • Annual utilization rate: 42.5 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 191
  • Annual round trip reductions: 52 (27.2 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $1,900,000
Gabriola Island - Nanaimo Harbour
  • Annual utilization rate: 45.5 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 5,732
  • Annual round trip reductions: 834 (14.5 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $800,000
Chemainus - Thetis - Penelakut
  • Annual utilization rate: 29.1 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 4,380
  • Annual round trip reductions: 417 (9.5 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $160,000
Buckley Bay - Denman Island
  • Annual utilization rate: 41.2 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 6,149
  • Annual round trip reductions: 888 (14.4 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $660,000
Hornby Island - Denman Island
  • Annual utilization rate: 38.1 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 4,482
  • Annual round trip reductions: 422 (9.4 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $360,000
Quadra Island - Campbell River
  • Annual utilization rate: 41.9 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 6,253
  • Annual round trip reductions: 468 (7.5 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $370,000
Skidegate - Alliford Bay
  • Annual utilization rate: 20.2 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 4,482
  • Annual round trip reductions: 1,564 (34.9 per cent)
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $1,200,000
Port Hardy - Mid Coast - Bella Coola (summer only)
  • Annual utilization rate: 29.5 per cent
  • Annual contracted round trips: 39
  • Annual round trip reductions: route to be cancelled
  • Estimated net savings to 2016: $1,450,000
*The current winter connector service by the Nimpkish will be extended year- round, connecting Ocean Falls, Shearwater and Bella Coola to Bella Bella and the north-south Prince Rupert to Port Hardy service.

**Note: The free Monday - Thursday travel for Seniors applied to the passenger fare only.

I am sure there will be reaction by Sunshine Coast regional and town leaders in the days ahead. I will post that reaction when available along with my own thoughts.
01-08-2014, 04:59 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-08-2014, 09:51 AM by Skook.)
RE: **Prices subject to change without notice** - BC Ferries & the Sunshine Coast
January 8, 2014 Update:

Did you happen to catch the BC Ferries announcement on January 2nd? No? Well, it was very brief and the timing was really bad it being only two days into the New Year with people still travelling back and forth for the holidays or too busy heading back to work.

I stumbled on the announcement by luck when I visited the Vancouver Sun online that day. I’ve been diligently checking the Coast Reporter online to see is there has been any Sunshine Coast reaction to the announcement but nothing so far. Maybe the CR staff missed the announcement, too, or maybe we have all become inured to such news, or maybe everyone is numb from the last big BC Ferry announcement in November - you know, the one with the seniors’ perk cutback and route cancellations (see post above).

Well, here is that January 2nd announcement courtesy of the Canadian Press via the Vancouver Sun:

Quote:BC Ferries to add 3.5 per cent fuel surcharge to most routes
Canadian Press January 2, 2014 12:16 PM

VICTORIA - BC Ferries is adding a 3.5 per cent fuel surcharge to most of its routes starting Jan. 17.

The ferry operator says the surcharge will apply to all routes except for sailings from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, and Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii.

In a news release, the company blames high diesel fuel costs, explaining that current prices are 14 cents per litre higher than what the province's ferry commissioner used to determine the cap on fares.

The surcharge could add several dollars to some trips, with a family of four travelling between Vancouver and Victoria paying an extra $3.25 for a one-way trip.

The company says northern sailings aren't affected because the ferry commissioner uses a different process to manage fares on those routes.

BC Ferries has taken a number of steps recently to bring down costs, including announcing plans to eliminate thousands of sailings across the province and eliminate some discounts.

According to BC Ferries' own document, here is how the fuel surcharge will play out for SC residents:

Horseshoe Bay - Langdale:
Adults: 0.50; Children (age 5-11): 0.25; Car/Pickup (under 20’): 1.70; Motorcycle: 0.85

Saltery Bay - Earl’s Cove:
Adult: 0.45; Children (age 5-11): 0.25; Car/Pickup (under 20’): 1.65; Motorcycle: 0.80

So, in just over a week’s time, what will it cost two adults in a regular vehicle to make a return trip into Vancouver? Here’s the tally:

On January 17, 2014: (29.10 + 1.00) + (49.05 + 1.70) = $80.85 (is currently $78.15)

Now, it just so happens that on April 1st, BC Ferries is raising fares by 4%. We know this already because back in March, 2013 it was announced that fares were to increase by 12% over the next three years to cover falling revenues. For the Sunshine Coast, those increases would be 4.1% (April 1, 2013), 4% (April 1, 2014) and 3.9% (April 1, 2015). So, in just under three months, with that 4% increase and the new fuel surcharge what will cost those 2 adults in a standard vehicle making that round trip to Vancouver?

On April 1, 2014: (30.26 + 1.06) + (51.01 + 1.77) = $84.10 (was to have been $81.27 - scroll to third table in this post).

What the BC Ferries January 2nd News Release does not indicate is the effect of the fuel charge on commercial vehicles, buses and RVs which are charged a fare based on vehicle length. Looks like another nail in the coffin for all the small businesses operating on the coast and islands.

The news just gets better and better for all those calling the Sunshine Coast home.

(You can access the official BC Ferries News Release here)

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