BC Ferries eyes sailing, staff reductions

Passenger and vehicle traffic is down this year and is not expected to recover any time soon, so BC Ferries is considering a plan to cut hundreds of sailings to save money.

BC Ferries' new coastal-class vessels at the dock at Swartz Bay near Victoria.

VICTORIA – Ferry traffic is down this year and is not expected to recover any time soon, so BC Ferries is considering a plan to cut hundreds of sailings to save money.

BC Ferries issued its first-quarter results this week, showing a decline of 3.3 per cent in vehicle traffic and 2.9 per cent in passengers, compared to the same quarter last year. That’s a 20-year low for the spring period, and the first year-to-year decline in that quarter in several years.

BC Ferries had been expecting that higher costs and lower traffic would lead to a net loss of about $20 million this fiscal year, but revenues have fallen more than expected.

“Recently we have seen a further erosion of traffic and we do not anticipate a turnaround in the foreseeable future,” CEO David Hahn said in a statement released for the corporation’s annual meeting in Vancouver. “Therefore the year-end loss could be significantly higher.”

A review of all BC Ferries expenditures is underway, looking particularly at capital expenditures and discretionary spending. A hiring freeze and reduced hours for casual staff are likely, but layoffs of full-time staff are not, Hahn said.

Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday an ongoing independent review of ferry operations should address “structural problems” in ferry operations.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom put a cap on ferry fare increases this spring, one of several moves billed as part of Premier Christy Clark’s “families first” agenda. Proposed fare increases of up to eight per cent on northern and smaller routes were capped at 4.15 per cent while Gord Macatee, the new B.C. Ferry Commissioner, reviews rates and makes recommendations to the government by early 2012.

Lekstrom said the review of ferries will examine the current public subsidy, and legislated rules such as minimum numbers of sailings and a restriction on using revenue from busier routes to subsidize smaller ones.

Just Posted

Charges laid in Vanderhoof hotel homicide

A 24-year-old woman from Spirit River, Alta. has been arrested in connection… Continue reading

Rocky days ahead for Vanderhoof

But sometimes rocky days are the best days

Shovel Lake wildfire grows to 5,000 hectares

The Shovel Lake wildfire has seen substantial growth in the last 24… Continue reading

Four more evacuation alerts, one evacuation order issued

Island Lake newest wildfire of note in the Burns Lake area

Locals come out for a concert in the park

Local musicians and bands featured throughout the day

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Wildfire smoke blankets B.C. and Alberta, prompting air quality advisories

About 25 new wildfires were sparked between Monday morning and midday Tuesday

Big bucks for painting of small B.C. town

A 1965 painting of Ashcroft by E. J. Hughes exceeded its pre-auction estimate at a recent sale.

Column: Mother orca’s display of grief sends powerful message

The grief of this orca mother may not be visible anymore, but we must not forget.

Seven people with ties to Red Scorpions gang arrested in B.C. drug bust

Delta police have secured 94 charges against seven people, including drug and firearm offences

Most Read