Increased ferry rates could sink truckers

VICTORIA — Rate increases from B.C. Ferries that are scheduled to kick in on April 1 have local truckers concerned about being able to keep up.

The rate for commercial vehicles will increase by 20 cents a foot to $5.25 for main routes like Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay and Duke Point-Tsawwassen, which connect Vancouver Island with the mainland.

Dennis Frith, the owner of Blueboy Express, told local media that trucking companies like his Victoria-based firm are already facing difficulties.

"Right now, the trucking industry is going through a major recession. Most industry freight rates are going down so companies can remain competitive, but our costs for things like fuel, ferry rates and barge rates continue to increase," said Frith. "It’s a matter of simple economics when costs go up and revenues go down, something has got to give and it is going to be jobs."

Frith said the increase will force him to downsize Blueboy Express for the second time in three years and that means laying off drivers and other staff members.

"It’s a huge increase to our costs. Sometimes we have more than 265 feet a day going back and forth between the Island and the Mainland. It adds up over the course of a week, month, year. It definitely hits our bottom line."

B.C. Ferries meanwhile says the increase isn’t a way to make more money and will be revenue neutral for the ferry service.

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