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Long road to recovery for B.C. trucking, bus charter companies

Last Updated Jun 17, 2020 at 12:18 pm PDT

FILE - The province is funding the installation of portable toilets at several commercial vehicle pull-outs, inspection stations and chain-up locations throughout B.C. (Courtesy B.C. Government)

B.C. Trucking Association fears it could be nearly a year before revenues return to levels seen before COVID-19

Trucking companies have been affected by steep drops in retail sales, housing starts, exports and imports: survey

Bus company revenues down 97 per cent, recovery could take 20 months

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The B.C. trucking industry is facing a long road to recovery from the pandemic, even though it remained an essential service.

Dave Earle, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, fears it could be nearly a year before industry revenues return to levels seen before COVID-19.

“It’s very rare that a company was able to just continue operating,” he said. “The vast majority of our members suffered really significant drops in revenue, and some of them catastrophic, frankly.”

Trucking companies have been affected by steep drops in retail sales, housing starts, exports to the U.S., and imports from China and other global supply chain members, according to a new survey.

While Earle acknowledges some companies are so busy they are currently hiring, industry revenues were down 23 per cent in May.

RELATED: COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on truckers, says B.C. association president

“That level of loss of revenue has led to significant layoffs in many sectors and significant disruption to business opportunities,” Earle added.

It’s even worse for motorcoach companies, with revenues down 97 per cent and recovery from imposed health and safety restrictions expected to take 20 months.

A bulk of those businesses — 92 per cent — are now worrying about the survival of their business. That’s up seven per cent over April.

Earle said motorcoach members, which include charter bus services, have good reason to worry since B.C. has not yet set a date for a return of international travel, or concerts, or conventions — the “lifeblood of seasonal support operations.”

For trucking companies, 32 per cent of respondents are concerned about survival — down five per cent.

Twenty-five per cent of suppliers are concerned about their survival, a seven per cent increase from April.

“The majority of our members support government measures to deal with COVID-19, things like closing the border and following stringent health protocols to keep drivers and customers safe,” Earle said.

“What BCTA is looking at now is how to address changes to operations and find ways to help companies survive until B.C.’s economy starts to recover. Our own concern is that business will take longer to rebound than we’d like, putting some B.C. road carriers in jeopardy.”