BC Ferries says it will freeze its plans to end fuel rebates for customers after the province offered up new funds to compensate the corporation for high fuel costs.
In a letter to BC Ferries board chairman Donald Hayes on Sunday, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said she “extremely disappointed” by a plan by BC Ferries to remove fuel rebates, less than two months after the provincial government put a fare reduction strategy in place.
Trevena wrote that she was “surprised and disappointed” to learn last week that BC Ferries was planning to announce the removal of fuel rebates of 2.9 per cent on major and minor rates and 1.9 per cent on Northern routes.
She said that she believes that action is contrary to the government’s commitment to freeze ferry fares.
However, BC Ferries president Mark Collins said that the province has known about plans to cut the fuel rebate since November, and that Trevena’s letter comes a little too late.
“That letter contains some new information… that the government is prepared to put funds in place,” Collins told Black Press Media Tuesday.
“That has not been on offer before.”
Currently, BC Ferries offers fuel rebates of 2.9 per cent on southern routes and 1.9 per cent on northern routes.
Collins said that the rebates are offered to customers when the price of fuel for BC Ferries was lower than they’d budgeted for.
“But when the price of fuel rises above what we budgeted for, there is a surcharge,” Collins said, but added that the company has no plans to bring in a surcharge currently.
The current rebates have been offered since 2016, and the last time there was a surcharge was in 2013.
Collins said that BC Ferries is prepared to wait for two weeks for the government to lay out its plans for extra funding
The Canadian Press