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Islanders chafing under ferry fare hikes

Fare hikes hit ferry routes, including the Crofton-Vesuvius run, yesterday. -
Fare hikes hit ferry routes, including the Crofton-Vesuvius run, yesterday.
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April 1 brought a slew of price increases, including ferry fares and the cost of a postage stamp rising to $1.

It was no joke.

The ferry situation is a particular source of consternation for all islanders, both regarding the Mainland and local routes.

Ferry rates are up as of Monday and new schedules are now in effect that can be viewed at http://www.bcferries.com/schedules/, including the Chemainus-Penelakut Island-Thetis Island and Crofton-Vesuvius runs.

Keith Rush has been actively involved as chair of the Thetis Island Ferry Advisory Committee. The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs issued a joint press release in advance of the fare increases, citing numerous concerns.

"Ferry fares continue their relentless climb into regions of unaffordability, accompanied by repetitive rhetoric from the provincial government that is disconnected from acceptance, or even understanding, of the needs of B.C.'s coastal region,'' reads the statement.

"With the fare increases taking effect on April 1 and fuel surcharges imposed in January, most passenger fares are up 8.4% and vehicle fares are up 7.4% over last year, yet another round of fare hikes far above inflation. And seniors now have to pay for travel from Monday to Thursday.''

The statement went on to say "user-pay ideology has been mindlessly imposed on the ferry system, up to and beyond the tipping point where it is now crippling B.C.'s coastal region and undermining B.C.'s tourism reputation internationally.''

The FACC is calling on the province to back away from user pay and consider the following realities: B.C.'s coastal region and the ferry system are intertwined and depend on each other for survival; it costs money to operate and maintain assets of one of the largest ferry systems in the world; and policies that substantially change the service need to be supported by some analysis of costs, benefits and economic and social impacts.

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