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

Police incident in Mount Douglas Park leads to road closure

Officers turning cars away, letting hikers go up trails

PHOTOS: Women’s March through downtown Victoria draws crowds of activists, allies

Attendees of all ages carried instruments, posters with empowering messages

Victoria resident lives well despite dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Most Read