VICTORIA - British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BC Ferries) says it absorbed a net loss of $17.2 million in its third quarter ending Dec. 31, 2012.

That's a slight improvement over the net loss of $19.2 million in the same quarter last year.

BC Ferries says third quarter vehicle traffic declined 2.2 per cent and passenger traffic fell 2.4 per cent, largely due to December, when total traffic decreased 5.6 per cent on major routes.

In December, there was a lot of stormy weather with high winds that resulted in numerous sailing cancellations in and around the peak holiday season.

The company says it expects annual traffic levels will be slightly lower as a result.

Total revenue in the quarter increased by $4.7 million to $169.6 million compared to the same quarter last year.

Quarterly operating expenses rose from $166.7 million to $169.4 million because of higher vessel and terminal maintenance costs, which were partially offset by lower fuel costs.

BC Ferries, one of the largest ferry operators in the world, carried 20.2 million passengers and 7.8 million vehicles on 25 routes during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012.

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