BC Ferries announced a drop in earnings, Friday, with the company keen to stress its focus on the future.
Consolidated net earnings for 2019 are $52.2 million, compared to $59.9 million for the fiscal year 2018. BC Ferries say they experienced the highest vehicle traffic levels ever and passenger traffic levels were the second highest in the company’s history.
“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,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “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 invested $241.1 million in capital expenditures in the 12 months ending March 31. Vessel upgrades and modifications cost $133.5 million, while $49 million was spent on new vessels themselves. A total$28.2 million went into information technology, $19.5 million into terminal building upgrades and $10.9 million into terminal marine structures.
Five of the vessels operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG), which while still a fossil fuel, is cleaner than diesel. The cable ferry, which operates between Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island and Denman Island, has smaller power requirements than a traditional ferry, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 50 per cent.
BC Ferries has two Island Class electric battery hybrid ships under construction and when electric technology matures and electricity is available in the quantities required, BC Ferries intends to operate them as fully electric ferries.
“Continued investment to reduce our environmental footprint is of great importance to BC Ferries,” said Collins. “We are on a path to greater sustainability by continuously developing and implementing innovative and cost-effective ways to minimize our impact on the coastal environment in which we operate.”