Long Road to Recovery for BC Goods and Passenger Transporters

Langley, British Columbia—Statistics the BC Trucking Association (BCTA) has gathered for May 2020 indicate that all members surveyed – trucking and motor coach companies and the suppliers and service providers supporting them – don’t expect to return to pre-COVID-19 business levels for another 10 to 11 months and longer for motor coach companies, who expect to face up to another 20 months of recovery from the harsh changes imposed by the pandemic. Some may not make it that far.

BCTA conducted a third COVID-19 Impact Survey of its members between May 27 and June 9, focusing on data for May 2020, following surveys for March and April. In this latest survey, looking only at the next three months, 92 percent of motor coach company respondents indicated they are concerned about the survival of their business (an increase of 7 percent over April). For trucking, 32 percent of respondents are concerned about survival (a decrease of 5 percent) and for suppliers, the number of respondents concerned for survival in the short term has risen by 7 percent since April, to 25 percent overall.

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

BCTA’s motor coach members, in particular, have good cause to worry about fallout from the pandemic. BC as yet has no date for a return to international travel, concerts, or conventions, the lifeblood of seasonal support operations like charter coach services. Trucking companies are affected by steep drops in retail sales, housing starts, exports to the US and imports from China and other global supply chain members.

Results of the third COVID-19 Impact Survey indicate that:

  • Trucking companies have, on average, experienced a 23 percent drop in revenue, a slight improvement of 7 percent from our previous survey in April, when revenue fell, on average, by 30 percent;
  • Motor coach companies saw an average 97 percent drop in revenue, a slight increase over April (about 1 percent); and
  • Suppliers and service providers realized a 39 percent drop in revenue, a further 3 percent drop compared to April.

As employers, BCTA members are also struggling to keep staff working, and layoffs continued through May, in spite of government wage subsidy and other programs:

  • For trucking companies:
    • In April, 53 percent reported an average 22 temporary layoffs per company, and 24 percent reported an average of 2 permanent layoffs.
    • By May, 54 percent reported 9 temporary layoffs per company and 21 percent reported 2 permanent layoffs.
  • For motor coach companies:
    • In April, 92 percent reported an average of 41 temporary layoffs, with 15 percent reporting an average of 17 permanent layoffs.
    • For May, 83 percent reported an average of 42 temporary layoffs, and 8 percent reported an average of 5 permanent layoffs.
  • For suppliers and service providers:
    • In April, 40 percent of respondents reported temporarily laying off an average of 34 employees, and 7 percent reported permanent layoffs of an average of 11 employees.
    • For May, 42 percent of employers temporarily laid off an average of 21 employees, while 16 percent permanently laid off an average of 27.

BCTA is assisting our members by developing health protocols and guidance for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), approved by the Provincial Health Office, to ensure that our trucking and motor coach members are equipped to effectively address working within parameters imposed by COVID-19. Until supplies of PPE improved, we obtained and distributed thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer to our members at cost, as well as non-medical face masks for truck drivers and other employees. While charter bus services will depend on a return to travel options and demand, they also face, more than trucking, the need to build consumer confidence.

BCTA continues to keep members informed about government programs available to assist businesses, including loans (including for commercial rent), wage subsidies, and payment deferrals. With the Canadian Trucking Alliance, we’re advocating changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, so that more companies are eligible to benefit.


BCTA’s third COVID-19 Impact Survey (May 2020) had a response rates of 21 percent for trucking company members and 57 percent for motor coach company members. The second survey (for April 2020) received response rates of 24 percent and 62 percent, respectively.

For suppliers and service providers among our membership, the response rate for the third survey was 18 percent (compared 23 percent for the second survey). Almost half of these respondents (44 percent) were truck/trailer manufacturers, dealers, and/or dealt with sales, service, repair and rentals. The remaining respondents included insurance, driver training schools, safety or environmental consultants, HR or employment services, financing, transportation management systems, communications, marketing or legal services.

Percentages regarding expectations for economic recovery quoted above are based on weighted averages for responses from each survey group.

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