VICTORIA – British Columbia has one of the largest ferry operations in the world and it is important to ensure that the services it provides remain efficient, and that fares for the travelling public are reasonable.
Here are the facts:
- Government recognizes the importance of ferry services. The increased level of taxpayer funding demonstrates that: $200 million to BC Ferries this year.
- This is more than double the $95 million that taxpayers contributed to B.C. Ferries in 2001.
The new model is a success:
- Since government established the new model for BC Ferries in 2003, capital expenditures have gone up significantly and customer satisfaction is at an all-time high of 91 per cent, compared to 82 per cent in 2003.
- On-time performance has also improved from 84 per cent to 89 per cent in 2009.
- BC Ferries has invested $1.6 billion in new capital since 2003, including:
o New and improved vessels – $1.2 billion.
o Terminal improvements – $300 million.
o Other (e.g. information systems technology) – $96 million.
- BC Ferries has also successfully secured funding from the federal government to offset marine infrastructure, including:
o $9.5 million under Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.
o $9.1 million under Marine Security Contribution Program.
o $2.8 million under the Structured Financing Facility Program.
o $119.4 million in duty remission rebates.
Checks and balances are in place:
- Every four years the independent British Columbia Ferry Commission conducts a thorough review of ferry fares to determine what the next four-year term price caps should be.
- The comptroller general found BC Ferries operations to be well managed overall and that it uses sound financial and operational processes and controls.
- However, the comptroller general’s report also indicated that executive compensation at BC Ferries was significantly higher than that provided in the public sector.
- As a result, our government amended the legislation to ensure that future executives at BC Ferries are compensated at levels comparable to the public sector.
- B.C. has an independent ferry commissioner who will be establishing the maximum fare increases that will be permitted over the 2012-2016 period. As his preliminary price cap ruling will not be released until March 31, 2011, it is premature to speculate on any service change or fare increase.
- The decision rests with the ferry commissioner – not with BC Ferries.
- As the ferry commissioner has not yet completed his review of the reasonableness of the information provided by BC Ferries it is too early to assume any additional amount of money.
- Government will have ample time to carefully review the ferry commissioner’s price cap ruling and it will be 2012 before any changes in fares or services go into effect.