Ferry fuel surcharge nixed as holiday rush looms

BC Ferries announced Monday that the much-maligned fuel surcharge was being cancelled as of Wednesday.

"With the current favourable market conditions, we have been hedging our diesel fuel costs and are now in a position to eliminate the fuel surcharge, which is great news for holiday travellers," said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ president and CEO. "We know that fare affordability is an issue for our customers and we are pleased to be able to reduce the cost of ferry travel, as every bit helps."

The surcharge, which was 3.4 per cent, came under fire after BC Ferries announced $90 million in earnings, leaving critics questioning the need for the added bill. BC Ferries, expecting a busy holiday season with lots of travelers looking to go from Vancouver Island to the mainland and back, has also scheduled additional sailings on major routes.

To accommodate the anticipated increase in demand, they are adding 158 sailings to the schedule in December and early January.

Between Dec. 18 and Jan. 4, 112 sailings will be added between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, and 42 sailings will be added between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay. Four sailings will augment service between Duke Point and Tsawwassen.

The busiest days, BC Ferries said, are expected to be Dec. 26, 27 and 28, with the number of travelers expected to reach its peak mid-day on Dec. 27. Ferries recommends making reservations if you are traveling on these days.

On the other side of the coin, schedules will be reduced on some routes on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, as there is historically low demand.

You may also be able to get a Christmas treat on some boats.

"For diners looking for holiday favourites, we’ve got gingerbread cookies and Starbucks Christmas blend coffee on select vessels, as well as roast turkey with stuffing in the dinner buffet on the Tsawwassen- Swartz Bay route for a limited time," said Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ vice president of customer services.

"For anyone looking for last minute gift ideas, our gift shops offer a wide variety of jewelry, clothing and apparel, children’s toys, books and ornaments. Also, BC Ferries’ gift certificates make great stocking stuffers."

For full details on the holiday ferry schedules or to make reservations go to www.bcferries.com