BC Ferries will add a 3.5 per cent fuel surcharge on most routes to already rising fares effective Jan. 17.
The corporation said it's paying 14 cents more per litre for diesel than had been anticipated when the ferries commissioner approved fuel prices that are built into fares.
For major routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, the surcharge will add 50 cents per adult passenger and $1.75 per vehicle.
BC Ferries is also in raising fares by roughly four per cent per year and considering service cuts.
"We have waited as long as we can to implement a surcharge, however we must act now as it is clear that fuel prices are unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future," BC Ferries president and CEO Mike Corrigan said.
He said he realizes the move is unpopular.
"We are doing everything we can to keep our fuel costs as low as possible, including building new ships with LNG capability," Corrigan said.
Although ferry fuel consumption is down by 5.8 million litres since 2004, rising prices have pushed fuel costs up over the same period from $50 million to $121 million.
Each one cent increase in diesel prices translates into an extra $1.2 million outlay for BC Ferries.
The fuel surcharge will not apply on the Port Hardy to Prince Rupert run and Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii route.
NDP ferries critic Claire Trevena called on the province to abandon proposed service cuts and find a better solution that treats ferries as coastal highways that she said are essential to the economy and viability of coastal communities.