BC Ferries announces busiest spring ever for vehicle traffic

A record number of vehicles were transported to the British Columbia coast last spring.

BC Ferries released its first quarter results today, August 18, and announced that vehicle traffic this spring increased 42% from a year earlier to its highest levels on record for this period of the year.

Overall passenger traffic increased by 74% compared to the first quarter of last year, but was 6.3% below pre-COVID-19 levels; however, automobile traffic in the first quarter of this year increased by 3.8% compared to before the pandemic.

Revenues and profits also increased, the ferry company noted in a press release. Revenue for the first quarter of 2022 was up $35.7 million from a year earlier, which BC Ferries attributed to higher traffic volumes as well as retail sales. Removing “safe restart” pandemic recovery funding from the calculations, BC Ferries revenue was up $93.2 million from the prior year.

The company’s net income for the quarter was $7.9 million, down from $4.7 million, and operating expenses were $242.1 million, down from about $211 million. BC Ferries said the higher spending was mainly due to more crossings – which came with higher labor costs and greater fuel consumption – and fuel costs higher.

BC Ferries announced capital expenditures of $26.5 million in the first quarter, which included quarter-life upgrades to Coastal-class vessels, shoreline work at the Tsawwassen Terminal, upgrades to IT level and other projects.

“We emerge from the pandemic grateful to the federal and provincial governments for pandemic relief funding, and to BC Ferries employees for their commitment to putting safety first, operating in the public interest and ensuring 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 customers.”

BC Ferries acknowledged recent sailing cancellations due to crew shortages, but calculated cancellations represent less than 1% of ferry trips.

“The company apologizes to its customers for these service disruptions and continues to take all reasonable steps to reduce the impact on the traveling public,” the statement said.

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