One aspect which has to be considered is that BC Ferries are an integral part of the provincial transport infrastructure.
Therefore, capital expenditure for the highways and BC Ferries should be treated on the same basis.
Major highway upgrades and new highway construction are funded through borrowings, increasing the provincial debt, which all B.C. taxpayers are called upon to fund/service, including ferry users. The provincial vehicle licensing fees and the provincial fuel tax only pay for the maintenance of roads. All major upgrades of ships and terminals and the purchase of new ships are paid for by BC Ferries. These costs have to be amortized ($115 million per year) and debt-financed ($67.6 million per year), which make a big hole in the accounts explaining the annual financial result.
If highways and coastal ferries would be treated alike regarding infrastructure costs, ferry fares would be much lower than today!
Editor’s note: Jakob Knaus is the chair of the Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee.