British Columbia’s premier has announced $500 million in new funding for BC Ferries to keep fares low for passengers.
David Eby said a recent submission to the BC Ferries commissioner showed global inflation over the past 18 months means travellers could see a fare increase of more than 10 per cent a year between 2024 and 2028.
He says this investment aims to keep annual fare increases below three per cent, though the final cost will be determined by the commissioner by September 30.
“This is going to be hugely helpful for the travelling public,” Jill Sharland, interim president and CEO of BC Ferries, told CHEK News. “We are grateful they brought this contribution forward so that we could keep fares as low as possible.”
Eby said this will not only help travellers, but businesses on Vancouver Island that rely on the ferry system to transport goods and supplies.
“Impacts on deliveries for example. It would increase costs for businesses, professional contractors and tradespeople. They would in turn pass these costs onto consumers and families already hit hard by rising prices,” Eby explained.
The province said the increase in costs like fuel and inflation are driving up overall fees for the service, and the funding will also go toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions through electrification of vessels.
Eby says this action is “the latest in a series of measures our government has taken to support British Columbians with their day-to-day costs.”
Currently, BC Ferries has six hybrid electric vessels.
Sharland said these vessels only run on electricity when docked.
“In order to make them fully electric, we need to have investments both to bring shore power to the terminal and to electrify the vessels. It’s a big investment and this will definitely contribute to that investment,” she said.
This comes a day after he announced another round of the BC Affordability Credit that he said would also help offset inflation costs as he marked 100 days at the province’s helm.
“This is good news for the people and communities who rely on BC Ferries and for the whole province, as small businesses and all of us depend on strong supply chains for goods and services,” Eby told a news conference on Sunday.