A day before the federal budget was brought down, Marine Atlantic made public a three per cent fare increase.
This brings the total hike in fares on the Gulf service to 11 per cent in the last three years, and according to Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, it is contributing to a steady decline in traffic.
That should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to the Crown corporation which never seems to live up to its promises.
The latest increase is added to fuel surcharges on a service that has its ferries tied up because of bad weather for countless days every year.
See the related story: Operators leery of Marine Atlantic rate hike
HNL has a right to be worried about the decrease in traffic.
Some of us who live here have little choice but to pay the stiff prices for passage on the ferries.
If we want to get to or from the mainland with a vehicle, there is but one choice.
Tourists, however, aren’t held hostage by geography like that. They have shown in the past they love what this province has to offer in the way of natural beauty and friendly faces, but that doesn’t always make up for paying hundreds of dollars for fares both ways across the Gulf and not being able to depend on a halting schedule.
They often make other choices and avoid the cost and inconvenience.
More importantly, much of the food that we consume in this province arrives by truck on the Gulf run.
Truckers aren’t likely to absorb this rate increase so we know who will be hit with the fallout from the three per cent hike — the consumer.
There has been talk for decades about having the ferry service considered a part of the Trans-Canada Highway. That quest is falling further and further from reality.