An independent regulator, the BC Ferry Commission oversees BC’s coastal ferry operators, including BC Ferries. Our role is to balance the interests of ferry users and taxpayers with the financial sustainability of the ferry operator. To that end, our primary responsibility is to regulate fares by setting the price cap.
What is the PRICE CAP?
Price cap: the maximum allowable annual increase in average fares that BC Ferries is permitted to charge
The price cap is an average. This means that BC Ferries may choose to increase fares at different rates on different routes or for different types of traffic. Foot passenger fares, for example, could go up less than the price cap, while vehicle fares could go up more. Overall, however, the weighted average of the increases must not exceed the price cap.
The price cap is reset every 4 years.
What does the PRICE CAP apply to?
  • Vehicle fares
  • Passenger fares
  • Reservation fees
It does not apply to other customer fees, like fuel surcharges, food services, parking or retail.
How is the PRICE CAP calculated?
In calculating the price cap, the Commissioners set out to solve one key question: What amount of revenue is required to cover the expenses of the ferry operator?
The aim is to set a price cap that will minimize increases for users while allowing BC Ferries to earn enough revenue to cover its operating costs and service its debt.
To do so, the Commissioners look at forecasted ferry traffic (the key driver of revenues) and expected expenses over the 4-year term.
Expenses include:
  • Operating costs, such as fuel and labour
  • Capital expenditures, such as new vessels and terminal upgrades
  • Interest on long-term debt
The Commissioners also take into account anticipated improvements in efficiencies (like increased labour productivity or fuel savings), which will mean lower costs and, in turn, lower required revenues.
Once the price cap is set, the Commissioners may adjust it during the 4-year term if there is a significant change in the inflation rate.
Setting the PRICE CAP is a year-long process
September 30 – BC Ferries provides a detailed submission to the Commission, including a current performance term report, a capital plan, an efficiency report and a traffic demand forecast. The Commissioners consider this information in setting a preliminary price cap.
March 31 – Commissioners issue a preliminary price cap. The public is invited to comment. At the same time, BC Ferries and the BC Government negotiate the Coastal Ferry Services Contract, and may amend the transportation fee paid by the Province. Input from the public and changes to the transportation fee may influence a final determination of the price cap.
September 30 – Commissioners finalize the price cap for the 4-year term starting April 1 of the coming year.
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