Nearly 10 million vehicles boarded a BC Ferries vessel in 2022, a record-breaking number in the company’s 63-year history.
One of the primary reasons for the surge was the lifting of travel restrictions, allowing BC Ferries to carry 9.4 million vehicles and 21.6 million passengers during the year.
This represented an increase of 11 percent and 21 percent, respectively, compared to the same period in the prior year.
To meet the rising demand, BC Ferries provided 86,835 round trips, which was an increase of over 4,000 trips compared to the previous year.
According to the company, the year-end results for fiscal 2023 revealed a significant growth in both traffic and revenue, while operating expenses continued to pose challenges.
Revenues, excluding the federal/provincial Safe Restart Funding, increased by $170.4 million or 20 percent compared to the previous year, surpassing expenses by $46.9 million.
Total cancellations in the past year increased to 1.6 percent of sailings, up from 1.2 percent in the previous year, according to the company.
BC Ferries’ CEO, Nicolas Jimenez, acknowledged the staffing challenges faced by the company over the past year.
“Like many companies facing staffing challenges, we are working hard to fill key positions to meet our commitment to our customers to deliver the service they rely on each and every day,” said Jimenez.
Just last week, all Brentwood Bay / Mill Bay sailings were cancelled for a day due to staffing issues, as well, two late night sailings were cancelled on Friday, June 9th between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen.
“We know that even one cancellation is one too many for the millions of travellers who depend on the coastal ferry system.”
BC Ferries reported a net loss of $1.8 million in the past year, in contrast to net earnings of $34.1 million in the previous year.
Operating expenses in the most recent fiscal year rose to $991.5 million, a 14.2 percent increase from $868.0 million in the prior year.
The higher expenses were mainly contributed to the increased number of round trips, which resulted in higher labor costs, fuel consumption, maintenance expenses, and depreciation.
Additionally, increased fuel prices also contributed to the rise in operating expenses, according to the company.
During the recent fiscal year, the company invested $131.4 million in vessel upgrades and modifications, terminal marine structures, information technology, terminal building upgrades, and various other projects.
While BC Ferries remains cautiously optimistic about the future, acknowledging the strong traffic levels and improved conditions, they reiterated they cannot predict traffic volumes with certainty.