B.C. Ferries has posted what it calls a “modest profit” of $15.5 million in the 2013 fiscal year, reversing a $9-million loss the previous year.
In the fiscal year ending March 31, the quasi-private company reined in costs, received a top-up to its provincial subsidy and boosted fares as ridership continued to slide.
“B.C. Ferries has had a positive year, despite ridership being down,” president and chief executive officer Mike Corrigan said Friday. “With an aggressive cost-containment program, we’ve been able to post a modest profit.”
A higher subsidy from the province and higher fares led to revenues rising by $32.6 million to $786.4 million in 2013, the company said.
Fares rose by an average of 4.1 per cent on April 1, 2012, and by another 4.1 per cent in April this year. Similar increases are planned for the next two years.
In May 2012, the province announced that B.C. Ferries will receive an extra $80 million over four years in addition to the $150 million B.C. taxpayers contribute annually. The corporation was able to announce a profit this year because of that extra injection of cash, said NDP transportation critic Claire Trevena.
Operating expenses rose to $701.6 million in fiscal 2013, up from $693 million the previous year. Capital expenses totalled $96.6 million in 2013, including $41.3 million for upgrading vessels, $27.5 million for marine structures at its terminals, $20.6 million on information technology and $7.2 million in improvements in terminal and building upgrades and equipment.
The system carried 19.9 million passengers in 2013, down by 1.2 per cent from 2012, and 7.7 million vehicles, down by 1.1 per cent. But in three of the past five months in the 2013 fiscal year, total traffic was higher than in the same periods the previous year, B.C. Ferries said.
Taxpayers are waiting to see how B.C.’s new transportation minister, Todd Stone, will bring in close to $19 million worth of cuts in the next three years, after a public consultation exercise in 2012. Stone said in a statement: “We recognize there are still challenges ahead. We will be working with B.C. Ferries to bring forward a plan to optimize service levels, consistent with the principles discussed during our consultation process last fall.”
On April 3, the government and B.C. Ferries signed an amendment to a contract that had taxpayers chip in another $7 million. That money came in because the province was unable to meet a June 30 contract deadline to outline proposed cuts in service.
© Copyright 2013