A record number of vehicles were ferried around coastal B.C. this past spring.
BC Ferries released first-quarter results today, Aug. 18, and reported that vehicle traffic this spring was up 42 per cent from the previous year to reach its highest-ever levels for that time of year.
Passenger traffic overall was up 74 per cent from the first quarter last year but was 6.3 per cent lower than pre-COVID-19 levels; however, vehicle traffic in the first quarter this year was up 3.8 per cent from before the pandemic.
Revenues and earnings were also up, the ferry company noted in a press release. Revenues for the first quarter of 2022 increased $35.7 million from the previous year, which BC Ferries attributed to higher traffic volumes as well as retail sales. Removing ‘safe restart’ pandemic recovery funding from the calculations, BC Ferries’ revenues were up $93.2 million from the previous year.
The company’s net earnings for the quarter were $7.9 million, up from $4.7 million, and operating expenses were $242.1 million, up from approximately $211 million. BC Ferries reported that the higher expenses were mainly due to more sailings – which came with higher labour costs and greater fuel consumption – and higher fuel costs.
BC Ferries reported $26.5 million on capital expenditures in the first quarter, which included “quarter-life” upgrades to Coastal class vessels, shoreline work at the Tsawwassen terminal, IT upgrades, and other projects.
“We are emerging from the pandemic grateful to the federal and provincial governments for pandemic relief funding, and to BC Ferries’ employees for their commitment to put safety first, operate in the public interest, and ensure ferry travel is as reliable as possible,” said Jill Sharland, the company’s interim president and CEO. “Going forward, our focus remains on ensuring the well-being and safety of our employees and our customers.”
BC Ferries acknowledged recent sailing cancellations due to crew shortages, but calculated that the cancellations represent fewer than one per cent of ferry trips.
“The company apologizes to its customers for these service interruptions and continues to take all reasonable steps to reduce the impact to the travelling public,” the release noted.