EDITORIAL: Credit a start, but won’t float

NANAIMO – Tax credit for frequent ferry users doesn't go far enough.

There’s an old belief that goes along the lines of “not bad, but it could be better.”

That sums up the B.C. Conservatives’ proposed tax credit for bridge tolls and ferry costs.

If the Conservatives form the government following the May election, they propose a 40 per cent tax credit to frequent travellers who spend more than $780 and less than $1,800 a year on B.C. Ferries’ fares.

It applies strictly to a driver and vehicle – excluding vehicle passengers – and could amount to a credit of $408 a year.

While the tax credit hinges on the Conservatives getting elected to power May 14, it’s at the very least a bone the increasingly frustrated travelling public can latch onto.

It’s more than any other political party in B.C. has come up with. And it’s better than cutting sailings with one hand while increasing fares with the other. It’s painfully clear no one has any idea how to fix the money-sucking hole in the water that is B.C Ferries.

So, the tax credit is a start, but it doesn’t go far enough.

The credit floor of $780 should be the first thing to go. All ferry users should have a shot at getting some of their money back.

At $120 per driver and vehicle return from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland  – more come the fare increase Monday (April 1) – travellers need to complete seven trips a year to collect a rebate.

That’s tough considering many passengers walk on and catch transit on the other side to avoid the high vehicle costs. Are those efforts worth any less than taking a vehicle onboard?

After all, all taxpayers cover the more than $150-million subsidy the government provides B.C. Ferries, and this tax credit, however positive, would be more of the same. We all deserve a break.