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BC Ferries reports record-breaking summer vehicle traffic

Vehicle traffic up 3 per cent from pre-COVID times in quarter ending Sept. 30
BC Ferries reported record high vehicle traffic in its second quarter ending Sept. 30, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Ferries CEO said he’s feeling cautiously optimistic after the company’s second-quarter results revealed a summer of record-breaking vehicle traffic.

In the three months ending Sept. 30, the transportation company carried seven million passengers and three million vehicles throughout the province. This represents a 28 per cent passenger and 20 per cent vehicle traffic increase over the same period in 2020.

Compared to 2019, a non-pandemic year, the latest quarter saw a nine per cent passenger traffic decrease, but a three per cent vehicle traffic increase. BC Ferries credits this to pent-up demand from temporary provincial travel restrictions in the months leading up to the summer.

The company’s net earnings for the second quarter were $80 million, more than doubling from $37.9 million in 2020. Year-to-date since April 1, its net earnings were $84.6 million, compared to net losses of 24.2 million in 2020.

Operating expenses were up 14.3 per cent in the second quarter to $223.4 million from $195.3 million in 2020. BC Ferries said the change was due to an increase in staffing, more expensive traffic control and security, and greater fuel consumption to cover more round trips.

READ ALSO: Three men arrested after defying mask mandate, threatening passengers on ferry to Swartz Bay

Capital expenditures for the three months ending Sept. 30 totalled $41.5 million, which BC Ferries said went to investments in new vessels, the overhaul of old ones, and upgrades to hardware and marine structures.

Year-to-date since April 1, the company also used $62.8 million from its provincial-federal pandemic grant. The Safe Restart Funding provides BC Ferries with $308 million to offset pandemic losses between December 2020 and March 2024.

In a statement, CEO and president Mark Collins said he was happy to see strong traffic levels but remains cautious about what winter months could bring.

“Due to the seasonality of ferry travel, we usually see positive net earnings in the first half of the fiscal year, partially offset by net losses in the remainder of the year when traffic is low and routine vessel maintenance is scheduled,” Collins said.

READ ALSO: BC Ferries aims to have 12-14 fully electric vessels by 2032

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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