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Wednesday, December 7, 2011



Latest increase not even allowed under current legislation, say NDP
VICTORIA – Friday’s B.C. Ferries announcement of a new fuel surcharge increase seems to violate current legislation and the Liberals should put a halt to it, say the New Democrats.
“Ferries CEO David Hahn’s Christmas present to coastal communities is to make ferries even more expensive,” said New Democrat ferries critic Gary Coons. “even though current legislation may not allow it.”
A press release from the ferry corporation issued Friday said, “The fuel surcharge will rise from 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent on the three major routes connecting the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. A fuel surcharge of 2.5 per cent will be implemented on the Horseshoe Bay – Langdale route.”
Coons said the B.C. government passed legislation last year restricting B.C. Ferries “from obtaining extraordinary price cap increases.” The legislation does so by suspending a part of the 2003 Coastal Ferry Act that allows the corporation to apply for extraordinary price cap increases due to “an extraordinary increase in the price of any non-controllable input such as fuel” until October 2012.
“Whether or not it’s technically allowed under the act, everyone knows fares are already too high. As a result we’ve been seeing steep drops in ridership and financial woes at the corporation,” said Coons. “While we wait for results from the ferry commissioner’s review of B.C. Ferries, the Liberals are allowing the corporation to sneak in another hike by calling it a ‘fuel surcharge.’
“The Liberals have been neglecting the concerns of Island and coastal communities for years. It doesn’t take another report to tell you fares are too high.”
Coons said the Liberal government should stop B.C. Ferries from increasing fares at least while the commissioner completes his review.
On Thursday, Powell-River Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons submitted 2,785 letters calling on the Liberal government to recognize how high ferry fares are hurting coastal communities.
The same day, Gary Coons used the last question in question period to ask the Liberals about wasteful spending at B.C. Ferries.
“When asked about the cost of a controversial advertising agreement with the Vancouver Canucks, B.C. Ferries claimed to have no documentation,” said Coons in the legislature.
Coons then asked the transportation minister to tell British Columbians “how much B.C. Ferries blew on their JumboTron of an advertising campaign?”
Without even acknowledging the question, the premier rose to give a stump speech.
“It was shameless, self-promotion by the premier at an inappropriate time,” said Coons. “British Columbians deserve an answer about waste at B.C. Ferries, especially given today’s ticket prices.”
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe our ferries should be treated as an extension of our highway system.

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