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BC Ferries losing money faster, ridership down

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. lost $14.6 million in the three months that ended Dec. 31, almost twice as much money as the company lost in the same period a year earlier.

The company's net earnings fell from $67.7 million to $47.5 million. Revenue increased for the company by $12.9 million, but not as fast as expenses, which grew by $19.7 million.

Ferry vehicle traffic dropped by 5.1 percent in the nine month period, a late Friday afternoon company press release said. It blamed the drop on "deteriorating economic conditions and volatile fuel prices."

The Tyee reported last March that B.C. Ferries was losing money and riders. At the time NDP ferry critic Gary Coons blamed rising fares and predicted passenger numbers would continue to decline.

A chart on the B.C. Ferry Commissioner's website shows fares have increased by roughly 50 percent since the B.C. Liberal government privatized the former Crown corporation in 2003.

A 1997 B.C. Ferries study found that on the minor routes a bump in fares of 10 per cent would decrease the number of users by three per cent. On the major routes the decrease would be five per cent, the study predicted.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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