The Commission regulates ferry operators under the Coastal Ferry Act and as amended by subsequent legislation. The Commission is independent of both the provincial government and of BC Ferries.
In the course of its regulatory activities and responsibilities, the commissioner is required to bear in mind four principles as set out in section 38 of the Act as follows:
- the primary role of the commissioner is to balance, in the manner the commissioner considers appropriate, the interests of ferry users, taxpayers and the financial sustainability of ferry operators;
- ferry operators are to be encouraged to adopt a commercial approach to ferry service delivery;
- ferry operators are to be encouraged to seek additional or alternative service providers on designated ferry routes through fair and open competitive processes; and
- ferry operators are to be encouraged to be innovative and to minimize expenses without adversely affecting their safe compliance with core ferry services.
The Commission ensures that the average level of ferry fares charged by the company does not rise above a ceiling or “price cap” set by the Commission.
Other key tasks of the commissioner include monitoring BC Ferries’ adherence to the terms of the Coastal Ferry Services Contract, approval of major capital expenditures, conducting performance reviews, regulating unfair competitive advantage and the approval and monitoring of BC Ferries’ customer complaints process.
Efficiency in ferry services helps keep down both ferry fares and government subsidies. If you as a member of the public have information or observations suggesting ways in which the performance, service quality, efficiency or productivity of BC Ferries could be improved, the commissioner would be pleased to hear from you. Based on your input, the commissioner could decide to launch a probe or to conduct a performance review in which BC Ferries is legally required to answer the commissioner’s questions and comply with any resulting orders, with no appeal.
For information on the role of the commissioner detailed in part 4 of the Coastal Ferry Act, click here.
The expenses the BC Ferry Commission are recoverable from BC Ferries and pursuant to the Coastal Ferry Act must not exceed one fifth of one percentage point of BC Ferries’ revenue from fares.