BC Ferries records $52M profit and record high vehicle traffic

Jun 24 2019, 10:17 am

British Columbia’s provincial ferry system saw another year of strong numbers, with record high vehicle traffic levels and the second highest passenger traffic levels in the company’s history.

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BC Ferries says its 2018-19 fiscal year, ending on March 31, saw 8.9 million vehicles and 22.3 million passengers, representing a year-over-year increase of 1.9% for vehicle traffic and 1.2% for passenger traffic.

To accommodate the increased demand, the ferry corporation provided 877 additional round trips and 3,282 more round trips over and above what is required under its contract with the provincial government.

Its consolidated net earnings for the period were $52.2 million, which will be reinvested into the ferry system’s capital projects.

“High traffic volumes allow good financial results which enable us to expand our service to communities, renew the fleet, upgrade terminals, pay down debt, and reduce future borrowing,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “These are essential for a sustainable and environmentally-friendly ferry system.”

BC Ferries has a 12-year, $3.9-billion expansion and upgrade plan that will introduce new replacement vessels and retrofit major terminal facilities.

Over the latest fiscal year, it spent a total of $241 million on capital expenditures, including $133.5 million on vessel upgrades, $49 million on new vessels, $28.2 million on information technology, $19.5 million on terminal upgrades, and $10.9 million on marine structures.

This past spring, the Spirit of British Columbia, one of the largest vessels on the network, serving the major route between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, re-entered service after completing an upgrade that allows the vessel to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) — a cleaner and less costly fuel compared to marine diesel. The company now has five vessels operating on LNG.

It also has two Island Class electric-battery hybrid ships currently under construction to serve routes on northern Vancouver Island.

BC Ferries currently serves 25 routes using 35 vessels and 47 terminals. The former crown corporation is organized as a private company, with the provincial government as its only shareholder.

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