The B.C. government has brought in legislation to cap fare increases on BC Ferries next year and block the ferry company from reducing service until a review of fares is completed.
The legislation follows an announcement last week that B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee will conduct a review of the ferry system, focusing on fare hikes and how they affect coastal communities.
Under the legislation, the government will set an interim fare hike cap of four per cent on all routes for 2012-2013 and prevent BC Ferries from cutting sailings until a final decision on price caps is made.
The law would also prevent BC Ferries from asking for extraordinary increases in the fare cap until the commissioner completes his work early next year.
The legislation gives Macatee the power to recommend changes to better balance the interests of ferry users with the financial needs of BC Ferries.
The Macatee review was announced after Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom raised objections to the ferry company's plan to raise rates four per cent on major routes each year for the next three years, and eight per cent on minor routes.