Passengers watch orcas from a BC Ferries sailing. (Black Press files)

Passengers watch orcas from a BC Ferries sailing. (Black Press files)

BC Ferries posts strong earnings before rate cuts

Last year highest ever for vehicle traffic, most walk-ons in 20 years

BC Ferries has reported net earnings of nearly $60 million for 2017-18, due mostly to a surge in traffic volumes for vehicles and foot passengers.

Year-end results released Tuesday included the highest vehicle traffic total ever for the fiscal year ended March 31, and the most foot passenger tickets sold in 20 years.

The earnings result is not actual profit, since BC Ferries receives a provincial payment of more than $150 million a year to meet its requirement to service smaller communities. It also gets a federal-provincial subsidy of nearly $30 million.

Even with traffic continuing strong so far this year, discounts imposed by the NDP government mean less revenue for the provincial ferry corporation. A promised 15 per cent reduction in minor route fares took effect April 1, and Vancouver Island-Lower Mainland route fares are held steady for the current year after a 1.9 per cent increase in vehicle fares last year.

Free weekday sailings for seniors were also reinstated as of April 1, reversing the previous government’s policy of charging seniors 50 per cent of the walk-on fare for Monday to Thursday trips.

RELATED: BC Ferries eliminates fuel rebate

A fuel rebate is being discontinued as of June 27. Passengers on major and minor routes will pay an additional 2.9 per cent, while northern routes will see a 1.9 per cent increase. BC Ferries decided to remove a fuel rebate that has been in place since 2016, due to the rising cost of fuel.

On a Metro Vancouver-Vancouver Island trip, the fuel surcharge will cost 50 cents more on a passenger fare and $1.70 more for a vehicle. For a northern trip, the fuel charge is 30 cents per person and 70 cents per vehicle.

Demand for BC Ferries trips has been met by additional sailings and introduction of new vessels. Total round trips were up by 1,190 compared to the previous year. Three new Salish Class vessels in service on smaller routes were built to use liquefied natural gas as well as diesel, and the Spirit of British Columbia recently returned to service after a refit that includes an LNG fuel system to reduce costs.

BC Ferries estimates that LNG fuel is 40 to 50 per cent cheaper than marine diesel, which still powers most of the fleet.

The addition of new vessels and and sailings actually reduced BC Ferries’ bottom line in 2017-18, with the additional fuel, labour and training required costing more than the extra revenues generated.

BC Ferries

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sofia Low, left, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black, and Maya Wilch, Departure Bay Eco-School students, will turn down the temperature and wear sweaters on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo students will don sweaters this week as part of energy-saving challenge

Departure Bay Eco-School’s green energy team challenges other classes on National Sweater Day

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo’s NRGH

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All seniors in long-term care on the Island will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
UPDATE: Snowfall warning issued for Nanaimo area, up to 5 cm forecast

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
New positive COVID-19 case at Nanaimo care home, where outbreak was declared

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence employee is isolating, says Island Health

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read