I wonder what the view is like from David Hahn’s office in Victoria, because he’s certainly not seeing things the same way the people who use the ferry system he presides over are.
Gas prices and the low US dollar are to blame for a drop in the number of people choosing to take the ferry this summer? Really, Mr. Hahn, you’ve got to be kidding me.
I have a stock photo from 2008 that shows the price at the Chevron across the street selling regular unleaded for $1.459 – more than 15 cents per litre more than what’s been charged this summer. So logic would dictate the numbers in 2008 were lower than they are this year, but that’s not the case among the various routes is it? Nope.
Let’s try again. Right now the dollar is above par, but the fact is the dollar has been at, near or above par for the past several years. In April 2010 the dollar was above par, and it was above par back in February of 2008 as well. So since this is something that has been going on for some time now and people are well aware of it, I don’t think that argument holds much water either.
I don’t live on the Lower Mainland so I can’t overly speak of what’s happening on those major routes, but my guess is it’s the same thing happening on the North Coast but to a lesser extent. And that is that BC Ferries rates have gone up to the extent that the company has almost priced itself out of contention as a holiday option.
On the Inside Passage, it would cost a family of four with kids over 12 $1,130 to take their car from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. If they had an oversize vehicle, like a camper or big truck, that price would jump to $1,420. For the same family to go to Haida Gwaii and back, it would cost $622 with the car and $838 with a camper.
By comparison, that same family of four could fly from Vancouver to Las Vegas for $802 (via flightcentre and departing on August 19).
People are going to make their choice of vacation based not only on the experience they want, but also the cost of the trip. By the time you factor in gas to/from Prince Rupert, accommodations along the way, food and more, BC Ferries isn’t looking that great. And every time you and the board propose a fee hike it looks less and less attractive.
So blame the US dollar or blame the cost of fuel if you have to put on a good face for the media and the public. But the only people to blame for the drop are those working for BC Ferries who keep raising the rates.