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Ferries getting even more expensive: New fuel surcharge effective January 17

BC Ferries says an increase in diesel fuel prices and “world fuel market conditions” mean that customers will have to pay a new surcharge effective January 17, 2014.

The new fuel surcharge will be 3.5 per cent on average and apply to all routes except for Port Hardy-Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert-Haida Gwaii.

The ferry corporation says they are currently paying 14 cents more per litre for diesel fuel than what was approved by the ferries commissioner.

BC Ferries say it knows increasing fares is unpopular, but fuel prices are not expected to go down in the near future.

“Market pricing indicates that the price differential will continue throughout the year,” says Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “We are well aware that implementing a fuel surcharge is unpopular with our customers, and we are doing everything we can to keep our fuel costs as low as possible, including building new ships with LNG capability. We have waited as long as we can to implement a surcharge, however we must act now as it is clear that fuel prices are unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future.”

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BC Ferries says they have reduced their fuel consumption by 5.8 million litres since 2004. Ferries says each one cent per litre increase in the cost of diesel translates into a $1.2 million increase in company expenses.

Ferries says it uses fuel deferral accounts to help mitigate the impact that fluctuating fuel prices has on the cost of ferry travel.

The corporation is planning several belt-tightening measures this year.

This April, BC Ferries will stop waiving fares for seniors who travel Monday to Thursday on major and minor routes. Seniors will receive a 50 per cent discount off the regular fare, instead of a free trip.

Service on lower traffic routes to coastal communities will also be reduced.

The ferry corporation is also considering installing slot machines on major routes to help increase revenue.

Watch: Global News speaks with BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall about the fuel surcharge.