Ferry fares not fair

Ferries are an essential part of the transportation system of the B.C. Coast.

That’s why raising fares by more than 37 per cent on the minor routes over the next four years is unconscionable.

Rural and remote communities have already been hit hard economically in the past two decades as fishing and forestry have downsized. Now many must leave their water-accessible communities for work, recreation and shopping. Increasing the cost to do so is punitive.

As part of the highway transportation system, money needs to be spent to maintain and operate BC Ferries. For people living in remote communities, taking the ferry is the equivalent of paying a toll to use new sections of road or a new bridge elsewhere in B.C. The only difference is on the ferry the tolls keep rising and the road will never be paid for.

While BC Ferries is supposed to operate somewhat independently, it is still part of the highways system and relies on provincial funding. That funding needs to be increased. Like fixing potholes in other portions of highway infrastructure, the provincial government needs to fill the gaps where fares are not enough to keep the road open.

As well, the business model for BC Ferries needs to be adjusted so that profits realized on the major routes can subsidize the minor routes.

Fare increases will impact all those living on Vancouver Island who will pay more for food, fuel and other products, but the hardship higher fares will impose on remote communities is inexcusable.

The public has until June 30 to voice its opinion over the proposed fare increases at bcferrycommission.com.