$data.PageTitle

BC Ferries vessel Spirit of Vancouver Island passes between Galiano Island and Mayne Island while traveling from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, B.C., on Friday Aug. 26, 2011. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The provincial ferry service is riding high on a wave of first quarter earnings, more than doubling its returns from the same period last year.

For the three months ending on June 30, BC Ferries netted $12.2 million, compared to net earnings of $6 million at this time last year.

The ferry service credits its highest-ever first-quarter passenger and vehicle traffic numbers for the bump.

“Net earnings are essential for us to fulfill our commitment to support the growing needs of coastal communities,” said BC Ferries president Mark Collins. “With the public interest in mind, we reinvest all earnings back into the ferry system."

BC Ferries provided more than 700 additional round trips in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

The company also introduced the Northern Sea Wolf route and re-introduced the upgraded Spirit of Vancouver Island into service. The moves contributed to a 7.3 per cent increase in revenue and a corresponding five per cent increase in expenses compared to the first quarter of 2018, BC Ferries said.

From April 1 to June 30, the ferry service logged over 45,000 sailings, an average of 497 sailings per day. The company says it carried 5.8 million passengers and 2.4 million vehicles in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 2.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively, compared to the same quarter last year.