08/27/2012 01:40 EDT | Updated 10/27/2012 05:12 EDT

BC Ferries cuts 98 sailings on major routes this winter

BC Ferries is cutting 98 sailings on its major routes this fall and winter in order to reduce the number of near empty sailings.

Half of the cancelled trips will be early morning and late night Saturday sailings on the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route. Some additional sailing on Friday afternoons will also be cut on the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route and the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route.

Spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says the sailings are being dropped because they carry the fewest passengers.

"This is all in an effort to save money so we can try and keep our fares as reasonable as possible," said Marshall.

BC Ferries is still talking with the provincial government about possible changes on its minor routes, including the Southern and Northern Gulf islands, but no decisions are expected until next summer.

Originally the provincial ferry corporation was seeking to cut 400 sailings from its schedule, after it posted a $16-million loss in the 2010/11 financial year.

But in May, the provincial government stepped in to stop the cuts with an $80-million subsidy over the next four years and on Friday the Crown corporation posted a $3-million profit for 2011/12.

The province currently provides BC Ferries with another $150 million annually, while Ottawa contributes about $26 million a year.

BC Ferries has blamed its financial troubles on rising fuels costs and a steep decline in vehicle and passenger trips linked to a drop in tourism, but critics have pointed to the high salaries paid to its senior management.