Variable ferry pricing to become a permanent fixture next year

Ongoing promotions helping BC Ferries determine which discounts will work best on which routes in time for 2017 launch

A ferry pulls into Nanaimo's Departure Bay terminal. Discounts on low-use runs such as the 30 per cent fare discount being offered by BC Ferries in March will become standard practice for the ferry corporation in 2017.

When you choose to ride a B.C. ferry will have a direct relationship to how much money you have left in your wallet as soon as next year.

The ferry corporation has been calling a recent series of discounts offered to off-peak users “promotions.”

But it would be just as accurate to call them “research,” and come 2017 you will also be able to call them standard practice.

The details have yet to be worked out, but that is coming over the next few months, and variable pricing on ferry fares is expected be in place as soon as the computer system can be upgraded to handle it.

“We are going to be introducing fare flexibility,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said. “In 2017, we are going to roll out a variable policy.”

What that means is ferry users can expect fares to reflect the laws of supply and demand. The cheapest fares will be attached to a particular route’s least popular sailings, the most expensive to the most popular.

One goal of the new system is to redistribute ferry use patterns: attracting more passengers to the emptiest boats, while reducing the space crunch during the times of greatest demand. BC Ferries is hopeful this will result in better cost efficiencies.

“If we can shift traffic to the off-peak times, we may not have to schedule an extra trip,” Marshall said.

Another goal is to give people an incentive to take a trip they may not have previously made.

A 30 per cent reduction in off-peak hours recently announced for March is the third in a series of promotions designed to give BC Ferries brass an idea of what might work. The previous two — with different benefits and criteria — ran in the late summer/early fall, and in the weeks prior to Christmas.

According to Marshall, those promotions were effective in increasing the number of people using under-utilized routes, but it has yet to be determined how cost-effective the shift was.

“We have a lot of number-crunching to do,” she said.

BC Ferries’ President and CEO Mike Corrigan said last fall the new model will be designed to match other models common in the travel and transportation industries.

The changes are expected to be implemented fleet-wide.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich mayor signs up for mason bee rental service

Fred Haynes rents mason bee colony from Oyster River beekeeper for his Prospect Lake home

Occupancy rates remain above capacity in Greater Victoria hospitals

Region’s hospitals have more patients than acute care beds

‘Clever’ 90-year-old Saanich resident evades vitamin phone scammer

Police warn of phone scammers claiming to be from the Regional Health Authority

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read