Supporters of the Wet'suwet'en First Nations who blocked railways throughout the majority of February 2020 cost VIA Rail over a third of a million dollars a day, according to the crown corporation. VIA predicted that they could be facing record deficits for 2020.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, VIA announced that their passenger revenues for the first quarter of 2020 dropped by $33.6 million compared to the first quarter of 2019, losing out on $373,000 a day.
"Funding levels will not be sufficient to offset the potential operating deficit," the report reads. "Significant additional funding will be required."
Revenue dropped substantially "mainly due to the interruption of service caused by the February blockades and the decreased ridership and subsequent service adjustments caused by impacts of COVID-19," the report reads.
"The situation with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic is such that it is hard to assess when operations will return to more normal levels," wrote VIA staff.
"The future revenue potential is currently unknown and will be based on the ability to have both essential and non-essential travel and the level of confidence travelers have regarding the safety of train travel."
"Presently it is likely that 2020 financial results will be well below planned levels and those achieved in 2019, resulting in additional funding requirements," VIA told Parliament.
VIA points to the Wet'suwet'en blockades as the first domino in a series of events that caused the massive losses. The blockades were then immediately followed by the declaration of a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, on March 11.