If the long lineups and multiple-sailing waits at the BC Ferries’ terminals weren’t an adequate indication, ridership is at an all-time high.
BC Ferries made that official today when they released their first quarter results for 2018, stating that the company had recorded both the highest vehicle and passenger traffic levels in their 58-year-history.
“Traffic across the system has grown,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries President and CEO. He addressed the high levels of traffic and commented that “at these unprecedented traffic levels, we know that some travellers and communities are seeing some delays.”
Although ridership is at an all-time high, net earnings for the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year are drastically lower than last year.
Net earnings this quarter were $6 million, compared to the net earnings of $17.3 million during the same quarter of the previous fiscal year.
The company attributes the losses “to April 1 fare reductions as well as more sailings at popular sailing times.” Many of the fare reductions, including a 15% price reduction and a BC seniors’ passenger discount are partly funded by BC Ferries.
Other notable remarks from the report include a 7.8% increase in operating expenses, which now stand at $209.9 million. The increased costs come after the company provided 352 additional round trips to help meet the demand as well as a mid-life upgrade to the Spirit of British Columbia – one of the largest vessels on the fleet.
A large chunk of the upgrade included converting the engines to being duel-fuel capable, meaning it can now operate on liquefied natural gas. The change allows the vessel to reduce carbon emissions and achieve greenhouse gas reductions.