Every quarter, BC Ferries reports to the BC Ferry Commission on the performance of each route. The latest quarterly report (April to June 2017) confirms what many of us have seen this year – that as traffic has continued to increase, on-time performance has suffered and the number of overloaded sailings has increased significantly.
Spring 2017 saw the Vehicle Capacity Utilisation (the percentage of deck space occupied) rise to 58.3% – up by 4% compared to the same quarter last year, as shown in the graph below. Note that this graph expresses utilisation against the original deck capacity of 70, although BC Ferries now calculates the vessel’s capacity as 64.As traffic increases however, on-time performance is more difficult to maintain and as this next chart shows, the percentage of “on-time” departures in the quarter plummeted to just 86.1% compared to the past two years, when over 97% of departures left on time. On-time performance at this low level is more typically seen only in peak summer and this quarter’s performance is the lowest recorded in Spring for the past five years.One reason for the slip in on-time performance is the number of overloads that have to be managed – which increased in Spring 2017 to almost 10% of all sailings. Each time an overload occurs, the loading process takes longer while crew members squeeze in as many vehicles as possible. The number of sailings reported as overloaded this Spring was up by more than two-thirds compared to Spring 2016 and was almost on a par with the peak summer months last year. The full Quarterly Report to the BC Ferry Commissioner can be downloaded here
What is the Commissioner able to do with this information? Can he direct the Corporation to make changes?
I asked the Commissioner this question when he met with FAC Chairs in August. His response was that BC Ferries is required to report against a number of performance measures…. but the Commissioner does not have the power to set specific targets for BC Ferries to meet, nor to require them to change their delivery method if the performance does slip. A dog with no teeth….? ++ John