B.C. Ferries will cut 98 round trips on major routes from October until March as a cost-saving measure - including 32 between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen.
"These [trips] are underutilized," said spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. "They would go out normally more than three-quarters empty."
The base schedule for the Swartz BayTsawwassen route won't be affected, and ferries will continue to run on the regular odd-hour schedule from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, supplementary services - such as extra sailings on Fridays - could be cut, Marshall said.
"We operate 185,000 sailings a year," she said, describing the cuts as minimal. The cuts will apply for the next four years during the low season.
Forty-eight round trips are being eliminated from the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route, accounting for the largest chunk of cuts.
"On the Saturday service on that route, the first sailing will go out at 7: 45 a.m. and the last at 3: 15 p.m.," Marshall said, adding that the route is busier during the work week, when cargo is shipped.
The Horseshoe BayDeparture Bay route will lose 18 round trips intermittently Monday through Thursday.
The cuts are part of a four-year plan to save $1 million per year on major ferry routes.
"[The provincial government] has given us some targets for cost-cutting measures," Marshall said.
The corporation also plans to look for savings on some of its smaller, unprofitable routes, Marshall said. The government is holding public consultations on the northern and southern Gulf Islands before making cuts.
Options could include higher fares for certain routes, she said.
"There are ferries that go out with more employees than customers."
B.C. Ferries has seen a drop in traffic over the past two years, Marshall said.
She cited high gas prices and fares as possible factors, as well as a decrease in the number of Americans travelling to Canada. "With the economy, there's some uncertainty there." firstname.lastname@example.org
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