Ferry passengers -- especially those hauling trailers -- are going to have to shell out a little more for a ferry ride as BC Ferries increased its fees Thursday.

The company will charge nearly three per cent more on major routes and nearly six per cent more on minor ones.

These changes especially apply to longer vehicles like trailers and motorhomes, because BC Ferries has eliminated the overheight charge and replaced it with a vehicle length charge.

Some riders were surprised by the higher fares when they boarded their ferry.

Alberta residents Suzanne Sagmeister and Shane Kampela were coming back from a holiday on Vancouver Island when they found out about the increased fees. They had paid $160 on the trip over from the mainland.

"We had $160 and we were ready to hand it over and I said, ‘Excuse me?' And he said, ‘It's $260.' [I said,] ‘Oh, okay. Better dig a little deeper in the pockets,'" Kampela told CTV News.

"We'll have to rethink and maybe spend the winter in Vancouver or maybe go somewhere else."

But BC Ferries president David Hahn defended the fee increases.

"This was done with a lot of consultation with a lot of user groups, and the biggest thing that everybody kept coming back to is: ‘Could you eliminate that overheight charge and extend the charge for the length of the vehicle?'" Hahn told CTV News.

Some might assume a charge for longer vehicles would mean a discount for smaller vehicles like Smart cars. But Hahn says that won't happen, comparing vehicle spaces to seats on a plane.

"If you went to the airline, and you were a very small, thin person you wouldn't pay less than somebody that's bigger than that person. A seat is a seat and that's the way it works."

Costs are going up because the company is rebuilding its fleet, said Hahn.

"An old fleet and old infrastructure that was allowed to deteriorate had to be rebuilt and that's driving the fares," he said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty