NANAIMO, B.C. — Some truck drivers say they are considering leaving Vancouver Island for the mainland to avoid climbing ferry fees and higher fuel prices, according to a recent story published by Canada.com.
Experienced truckers are already in demand, and it has been predicted that a further decline in the number of drivers could drive up the cost of goods coming onto the Island.
“Right now I’m looking at moving off Vancouver Island,” said Nanaimo’s Chad Hopps, an independent operator who often travels between the Island and the Interior of B.C.
Hopps is able to recover some of his fuel costs through a surcharge paid by customers through the company he has a lease agreement with, but it’s not nearly enough, he said.
“I’m pretty freaked out. Basically we’re working to pay for fuel now,” said Hopps. “Especially living on the Island; the fuel surcharge barely covers what we do.”
A one-way ferry trip costs Hopps about $400, while his fuel costs have risen by about $1,000 per month over the past year. Working off Vancouver Island would allow truckers to avoid rising ferry surcharges, plus the price of fuel on the mainland is usually slightly lower.
Hopps knows a number of his colleagues who are considering leaving the Island or quitting the business altogether. The latter’s not an option for Hopps, who took out a loan last year to finance trailers for his truck.
“If I was to sell all my stuff now I wouldn’t get anywhere near what the loan is worth. I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he said.
With a struggling forestry industry, there’s also been a decline in the amount of product shipped off Vancouver Island, said trucker Peter Fox. Companies used to be able to send a truck hauling wood products destined for the mainland, and use that same truck to bring goods back to the island. Now, they often have to foot a hefty ferry bill to send an empty truck across the Strait of Georgia, and that added cost will trickle down to consumers.
“If it’s going to be costing over a $1,000 to get a B-train over here, somebody is going to be picking it up,” said Fox.
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