BC Ferries’ earnings down despite record vehicle traffic after purchase of three vessels

Photo: BC Ferries

BC Ferries reported total net earnings of just under $60 million in the 2018 fiscal year ended March 31, which is a more than 22% drop compared with $77 million in fiscal 2017.

The decrease comes in spite of a 5% jump in fare revenue, from $608 million last year to $640 million, driven by what the Crown corporation said is the highest level of vehicle traffic ever recorded and the highest passenger traffic in 20 years.

The drop was related to increases in operating, maintenance and administration costs in the year. In a release, BC Ferries said the jump in operating costs was a result of a “one-time increase in fuel consumption, labour and training related transition costs” after the purchase of three new vessels.

Depreciation costs also increased in 2018 as a result of these purchases. BC Ferries recorded $252.3 million in capital expenditures, which included $110.1 million in upgrades and modifications to vessels, $81.6 million for the new vessels and $24.4 million in information technology.

BC Ferries ran 1,190 more round trips in the year compared with 2017.

Despite the drop in net earnings, BC Ferries president and CEO Mark Collins called the year’s fiscal results “strong” and said increased revenue will be used to improve the “customer experience.”

“This performance helps us to increase service, invest in new vessels and terminal infrastructure, offer discounts and minimize borrowing,” he said.