BC Ferries gets praise, criticism from Port Clements

  • Sep. 16, 2009 10:00 a.m.

The village of Port Clements is writing two letters to BC Ferries, giving one thumb up and one thumb down to the service. The thumbs up is going out to the crew on the Northern Adventure. Council members all agreed that ferry workers have been polite, thoughtful and enthusiastic since the Northern Adventure started as the islands’ regular vessel in May. “My experience has been vastly improved,” mayor Cory Delves said at last week’s council meeting (Sept. 8). “It’s just simple things like the crew saying, ‘The stairwell is over here’. You didn’t get that before.” The deck crew also went out of their way to give Mr. Delves’s large trailer a good parking spot on a recent trip, he said. Councillor Cam Traplin said he has noticed a definite change in attitude on the new vessel, as compared to the Queen of Prince Rupert. “The people in the cafeteria treat you like a real customer now,” he said. Mr. Delves said the ferry crew has been through tough times since the Queen of the North sinking and it would probably be good for them to hear that islanders do appreciate their good service. Councillor Greg Stewart added that he travelled this summer on the new Northern Expedition. The food on that vessel is great, he said, and the service was phenomenal. The only problem, he said, was that the credit card payment system was not set up so that customers could leave a tip to show their appreciation. On the thumbs down side, council voted to send a letter to BC Ferries head office complaining about overheight fares. Mr. Delves said he recently went off-island with his truck and trailer to pick up a load of hay. On the way over, he was classified as oversize and paid $288. On the way back, his trailer took up exactly the same amount of deck space, yet he had to pay $435 because he was now classified as “overheight” due to the hay. “There is something wrong with that,” Mr. Delves said. Mr. Stewart agreed, saying that on the Northern Adventure almost the entire deck is open so it really doesn’t matter what height a vehicle is. “How can they charge for height when it goes to the ceiling, it’s air,” he said. Council members also wondered why BC Ferries can’t figure out a way to calculate the length of vehicles to give an accurate idea of when space is booked up. Right now, they said, vehicles well under 20 feet long are counted as 20 feet. This leads to staff telling customers that the ferry is full, when it is not. “That has a negative impact on our tourist traffic,” Mr. Delves said.