British Columbians should decide for themselves if B.C. Ferries president and CEO, David Hahn, was right when he claimed that the strong Canadian dollar and the price of gasoline are to blame for a twenty-year low in passenger traffic and not higher ferry fares.
IntegrityBC released three web links that give British Columbians the chance to compare for themselves the average price of a litre of gas in Victoria, the Canadian-US exchange rate, as well as the Bank of Canada’s consumer price index (CPI) calculator to compare fare hikes with inflation.
“Since 2007, fare hikes have far exceeded the rate of inflation,” said IntegrityBC’s managing director Dermod Travis. “For most passengers that’s a given, but what’s more disturbing are Hahn’s claims this week that it’s the price of gas and the dollar that are keeping people from the decks of B.C. Ferries.”
According to the websites that IntegrityBC consulted, gas prices at the pump were comparable to or higher throughout parts of 2007 and 2008 than what they are today; the Canadian dollar has traded within a range over the past five years that simply doesn’t explain by itself the corresponding drop in traffic; and the rate of inflation during this period has ranged from a low of 0.3 per cent in 2009 to a high of 2.7 per cent in July (over 2010).”
IntegrityBC contrasted this with rate increases on just two of BC Ferries highest traffic routes (Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay).
In April 2007, the regular vehicle (no driver) one-way fare was $35, by 2011 it had risen to $47.25 – almost ten dollars more than it would have been had it just kept pace with the CPI.
The adult passenger fare during the same period increased from $8.25 to $14.25. Had this fare simply kept pace with the CPI it would have been $8.88 this summer.
The non-partisan group noted that percentage fare hikes on most other routes were even higher.
“Regrettably for the citizens and businesses that rely on B.C. Ferries, Hahn and his team have created a vicious cycle: increasing fares to reduce losses from declining passenger traffic due to the higher fares in the first place which only leads to even higher fares in the future, fewer passengers and steeper losses,” said Travis.
“For the sake of B.C. Ferries and B.C. taxpayers, it’s time to put passengers before perks.”
IntegrityBC is a non-partisan voice championing accountability and integrity in BC politics. By empowering British Columbians. IntegrityBC hopes to change politics in BC and allow citizens to regain trust in our government.
Contributed by Aisha Vance