March 2018 Traffic

FAC Chairs

You shall be comforted, knowing the world is unfolding as it ought to.  At least for ferry traffic.
Vehicle traffic is up over last March by 4.71%, passenger traffic, 5.20%.  Simply rounded, traffic for March is up 5%.  While boosted by half an Easter weekend that wasn’t enjoyed in March 2017, still a darn solid increase.

March_2018_Traffic_Stats download
Given this is the end of the fiscal year, the Year to Date numbers become more significant. Vehicle traffic has increased over FY2017 by 5.03%, with passenger traffic up 4.73%.  Again, 5%.  To the even bigger, more significant, picture this is the third year in a row with these striking traffic increases.  Good for BCF bottom line.  Good for local businesses. Getting crunchy for overloads on some routes.
Into the murky details . . .
The overall March traffic increase was supported by good news from all route groups (graph 1) and from almost every route.  The March results were consistent with those for the Year to Date data (graph 2), an accountant’s dream.

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Graphs 3 and 4 indicate March traffic, like that of most months this past year, has lurched along to the highest levels we’ve seen for both the system and for the Minor routes since 2010, the year these detailed stats first became available to us.

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Graph 5 gives us the past year, month by month.  Generally strong, particularly in the big money months, June to September.  It seems there will always be a few unhappy surprises (May, Nov).  Sometimes it’s weather.  And sometimes it’s just those capricious stars aligning to thwart the best efforts (and wishes) of BCF.

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While traffic has enjoyed three feastish years, we need to remember it’s digging itself out of the ditch created by seven faminish years (graph 6).  Still well below what it might have been, had the drama been avoided.  Editor’s note . . .the broken line for vehicle traffic is because these are AEQ numbers, projected from the actual numbers provided by the monthly updates.  Passengers show as a solid line as there is only just the actual count.  No such thing as ‘equivalent’ passengers.  Mercifully.

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Graphs 7 and 8 illustrate the strong growth of the past three years, as well as the ditch time, for each our three coastal community route groups.  Rte 3, nominally a Major route, is included as they shared the hard times (fare increases, service cuts) endured by the Minor and Northern routes.  The Northern traffic collapse in 2007 was, of course, the result of the tragic loss of the Queen of the North (our ultimate reminder to never take safety for granted).

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The final message from GraphLand, number 9, the rock and roll history of ferry traffic since 1990.  More a picture of political ideology than customer demand.  Has always been the case and probably always will be.

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So here we are on the doorstep of a brand new year.   What’s coming  . . .
If you can believe the trend lines – some risk but better than throwing darts at a spreadsheet – experience would make the case for the current trend to continue. This, in the absence of any cataclysmic change in the fundamentals (Canadian dollar collapse, massive fare increase, economic meltdown, etc.).  Throw in the 15% fare cuts, the return of free seniors’ travel and traffic is certain to see even more dramatic increases.  It’s noteworthy that Minor Route traffic increased significantly more than on the Majors.   Ding!   Increased capacity needed in the hot spots, and the coming hot spots, sooner than the normal course of events would entail.  Possible responses schedule tuning, vessel redeployment, larger replacement vessels and hopefully tightening up the current four year cycle to put new boats into service,  BCF and the Province seem to be aware of the present and coming problems.  Now for the response . . . .It’s become urgent.
Anyway, an interesting year to come.  Comments always welcome!

Brian

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