Trucking group warns higher Marine Atlantic rates could mean higher prices for consumers

Jean-Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, says the increase to commercial costs at Marine Atlantic could mean more in the long run for consumers. (Guillaume Aubut/Radio-Canada)

An increase in Marine Atlantic's commercial rates will likely hit consumers in the wallet, says the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. "It'll end up costing citizens in Newfoundland more for their goods," Jean-Marc Picard told CBC Newfoundland Morning on Monday. "Because we're likely just gonna pass it down to our customers. That's really how it unfolds."

All commercial rates are increasing two per cent April 1.

On the Port aux Basques-North Sydney passage, for vehicles up to 30 feet long, it's an increase of just under £5 -- from £249.16 to £254.11. For vehicles between 70 and 80 feet, it's about £13 -- from £658.91 to £672.07. Marine Atlantic spokesperson Darrell Mercer said the move was made to meet the Crown corporation's budgetary commitment of 65 per cent cost recovery to the federal government.

"When you look at who uses our service most especially during the winter months, the commercial utilization, January, February for example, 91 per cent [are] commercial," Mercer said. "And for seven months of the year, that's about 80 per cent."

Trucking group warns higher Marine Atlantic rates could mean higher prices for consumersMarine Atlantic spokesperson Darrell Mercer says the rate hike is needed to meet the corporation's budget. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"If you're looking at trying to generate that money to meet our budgetary commitments, we wondered if it was better to generate the money from those who are actually using the service for most of the year." Picard said the cost increase might not be felt by consumers immediately, but could impact the price of goods in the future. "[It] might take a year, it might not be that evident," Picard said. "Because some of them might just say, 'Well, we'll absorb it because we don't want to increase the cost of our milk in Newfoundland.

So it all depends on the customer that sells the product." Picard said the new costs add to the already high operating cost of shipping to Newfoundland. "It's expensive enough to move goods to Newfoundland today," Picard said. "Operating costs are different when you go to Newfoundland taking the ferry.

The drivers sometimes have to wait longer so you have to pay them.

Things like that, right?  So I mean there's lots of challenges."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador[1]

References

  1. ^ Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador (www.cbc.ca)

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