Seniors’ discount returns to B.C. Ferries

As of April 1, the seniors’ discount on passenger fares on B.C. Ferries has been restored.

Those over 65 can ride for free, Monday to Thursday, although the vehicle fare still applies.

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It’s part of the government decision to roll back fares 15 per cent on minor routes and to freeze fares on the three major Vancouver Island-Mainland routes. A scheduled fare increase of 1.9 per cent due April 1 will not go ahead, according to a statement from B.C. Ferries.

These measures, which were included in the NDP’s election platform, were confirmed in the provincial budget.

B.C. Ferries and the province reached an agreement to fund these reductions at a cost of $43.2 million in 2019 and $54.8 million in 2020, for a total of $98 million.

B.C. Ferries is contributing $39 million to the $78 million in fare reduction. The province is contributing the remaining $59 million for fare reductions and increased B.C. seniors’ discounts.

“We are focused on the affordability of ferry travel. Our present financial position allows us to use some of our net earnings to reduce fares for our customers,” said Mark Collins, president and chief executive officer of B.C. Ferries. “This major additional contribution by the province expands efforts to improve affordability.”

B.C. Ferries has also reduced the buy-in level for Experience Cards by 15 per cent, to $95 for vehicle and driver and $55 for passenger fares.

Reservation fees have been reduced to $10 from $15 for customers who book seven days in advance. Reservations made less than seven days in advance and up to one day prior are $17. Reservations booked the day of travel are $21.

The cost of 10 assured-loading tickets is unchanged at $1,550.

B.C. Ferries will continue to offer customers discounts on some sailings to help move traffic to less busy sailings and open up space on popular sailings. B.C. Ferries will announce the discounted sailings closer to the times of availability, says the statement.

Last year, the company offered customers a total of $7 million in discounted sailings.

B.C. Ferries reinvests all of its net earnings to provide fare discounts and hold or reduce fares, to invest in new vessels and terminals, to improve service by increasing the number of sailings and to minimize borrowing to lower the interest paid on debt, says the statement.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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