BC Ferries says its net earnings went down and operating expenses increased in the 2019 fiscal year.

The company reported net earnings of $52.2 million for fiscal 2019, compared to $59.9 million for fiscal 2018.

The company also said they saw the highest amount of vehicle traffic ever and the second highest number of passengers. According to BC Ferries, vehicle traffic increased 1.9 per cent and passenger traffic increased 1.2 per cent over the prior year.

“High traffic volumes allow good financial results which enable us to expand our service to communities, renew the fleet, upgrade terminals, pay down debt and reduce future borrowing,” Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO, said in a statement.

“These are essential for a sustainable and environmentally-friendly ferry system. Our $3.9 billion 12-year capital plan addresses the need for a more resilient ferry service and emphasizes capacity, operational efficiency, affordability and flexibility.”

BC Ferries said during fiscal 2019, the company reintroduced the upgraded Spirit of British Columbia back into service and implemented a new reservation system. This led to an increase in labour, fuel consumption and training-related costs, but BC Ferries it was partially offset by the Spirit of British Columbia operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The company also said there was an increase in operating expenses from higher marine diesel prices, wage rate increases in accordance with the collective agreement and higher depreciation. Operating expenses increased $36.4 million from $784.3 million to $820.7 million.

BC Ferries invested $241.1 million in capital expenditures in the 12 months ending March 31, 2019, including:

• $133.5 million in vessel upgrades and modifications
• $49.0 million in new vessels
• $28.2 million in information technology
• $19.5 million in terminal building upgrades and
• $10.9 million in terminal marine structures

Five BC Ferries operate on (LNG) and the company has two electric battery hybrid ships under construction. Those will be used for northern Vancouver Island. BC Ferries plans to have the vessels operate as fully electric vehicles once the technology is available.

And at the start of fiscal 2019 (April 1, 2018) BC Ferries, with partial provincial funding, reduced the fares on all routes by 15 per cent, with the exception of three Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island routes. The BC Ferries seniors’ passenger discount also increased from 50 per to 100 per cent from Monday to Thursday.

BC Ferries said no fare increases are planned for 2020.

CHEK News