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Old 10-03-2012, 08:30 AM   #51
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Relaxing?? whens the last time you have been on a ferry?
A couple weeks ago. Life is as you make it...I love sitting on the ferry, staring out into the ocean, watching the little islands go by. Pretty relaxing to me
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:40 AM   #52
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A couple weeks ago. Life is as you make it...I love sitting on the ferry, staring out into the ocean, watching the little islands go by. Pretty relaxing to me


If you go on just in a big rush to get where you're going and fuming about the prices, you'll never enjoy the ride. Sometimes you need to just accept the things you can't change, kick back, and enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the destination.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:43 AM   #53
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I don't have a problem with the ferry service that is offered. Average trip is 2 hours or less, the chairs are fine, the boat is clean, loading and off-loading is efficient, when the weather is nice sitting outside and watching the scenery is beautiful, there is an area for kids, desks to work at, arcade games to play and before you know it, you are at your destination.

Is it necessary to have a cafeteria offer full meals with a dozen or so options along with sandwiches, pastries, breakfast items, every drink you could imagine, chips, candy, fruit, deserts? Probably not. Is is necessary to have a spa on the boat? Probably not. A 'first class' lounge? Probably not.

There are a lot of things on the boats themselves that can be justified or not justified. For an average 2 hour boat ride do you really NEED anything other that a seat, a book, a bottle of water and a snack? No.

Maybe the money is being spent in the wrong areas? Maybe we don't need a kitchen staff of 20 (random guess) on board....or an esthetician giving massages and painting nails...or gift shop staff....or first class lounge staff. Take out some of the sailings during the week, adjust times for the weekend and put extra sailings on holidays. Cut the huge bonuses and huge salaries for the people running the damn thing and when the gov't gives you 80 million dollars, spend it properly for fuck sake.

I say strip the ship down to essential service. Chair, water, bathroom, snack. Drop the prices, offer a frequent user pass, discount un-popular sailings. If every 7am Monday morning ferry is at capacity....offer the 1030 ferry at 20-30% off. I know, for me, if they had discounted sailings, I'd be inclined to visit the islands more often. We dont need a luxury liner for a 2 hour boat ride. I think money has gone to the wrong things and now we are paying for it...
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:49 AM   #54
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There are a lot of things on the boats themselves that can be justified or not justified. For an average 2 hour boat ride do you really NEED anything other that a seat, a book, a bottle of water and a snack? No.

...

I say strip the ship down to essential service. Chair, water, bathroom, snack. Drop the prices, offer a frequent user pass, discount un-popular sailings. If every 7am Monday morning ferry is at capacity....offer the 1030 ferry at 20-30% off. I know, for me, if they had discounted sailings, I'd be inclined to visit the islands more often. We dont need a luxury liner for a 2 hour boat ride. I think money has gone to the wrong things and now we are paying for it...
But there again, you're thinking like a commuter... not like an out-of-town, out-of-province, or out-of-country tourist. From the perspective of someone who HAS to take the boat to get from point A to point B, the bare essentials are fine. When you're trying to attract people who could just as easily drive up to Whistler for a weekend instead of taking the boat to Qualicum, you want to make sure the trip itself is as attractive and enjoyable as the final destination. You want to have the good food and the kitchy gift shops, because THESE are the people who HAVE the disposable income, the people who are on vacation and looking to drop money on these things along the way.

Every little bit in making the journey more interesting and enjoyable helps swing a decision. Having nothing but a big empty space with deck chairs and a couple vending machines is a good way to help ensure they pick Whistler next time.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:05 AM   #55
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I don't have a problem with the ferry service that is offered. Average trip is 2 hours or less, the chairs are fine, the boat is clean, loading and off-loading is efficient, when the weather is nice sitting outside and watching the scenery is beautiful, there is an area for kids, desks to work at, arcade games to play and before you know it, you are at your destination.

Is it necessary to have a cafeteria offer full meals with a dozen or so options along with sandwiches, pastries, breakfast items, every drink you could imagine, chips, candy, fruit, deserts? Probably not. Is is necessary to have a spa on the boat? Probably not. A 'first class' lounge? Probably not.

There are a lot of things on the boats themselves that can be justified or not justified. For an average 2 hour boat ride do you really NEED anything other that a seat, a book, a bottle of water and a snack? No.

Maybe the money is being spent in the wrong areas? Maybe we don't need a kitchen staff of 20 (random guess) on board....or an esthetician giving massages and painting nails...or gift shop staff....or first class lounge staff. Take out some of the sailings during the week, adjust times for the weekend and put extra sailings on holidays. Cut the huge bonuses and huge salaries for the people running the damn thing and when the gov't gives you 80 million dollars, spend it properly for fuck sake.

I say strip the ship down to essential service. Chair, water, bathroom, snack. Drop the prices, offer a frequent user pass, discount un-popular sailings. If every 7am Monday morning ferry is at capacity....offer the 1030 ferry at 20-30% off. I know, for me, if they had discounted sailings, I'd be inclined to visit the islands more often. We dont need a luxury liner for a 2 hour boat ride. I think money has gone to the wrong things and now we are paying for it...
First of all if you read my post about Transport Canada's minimum safe manning requirements, those 20 kitchen staff (since they all hold marine safety certifications) are there to meet those requirements. They just happen to sell food/gifts in the meantime. Do you think having a crew twiddling their thumbs for an hour and a half is a more efficient use of their time?

Second of all, the amenities on the boats such as food & gift stores MAKE MONEY for BC Ferries. Your "stripped down essential service" will cause BC Ferries to have to look elsewhere for that missing revenue.

When my wife and I are heading home on a later sailing (ie 7:00) we'll often have dinner on the boat because by the time we get home (9:00) it's way too late to want to eat. It works for us, and obviously for a lot of other people because you can always expect a giant line at the cafeteria every time you get on board.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:24 AM   #56
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But there again, you're thinking like a commuter... not like an out-of-town, out-of-province, or out-of-country tourist. From the perspective of someone who HAS to take the boat to get from point A to point B, the bare essentials are fine. When you're trying to attract people who could just as easily drive up to Whistler for a weekend instead of taking the boat to Qualicum, you want to make sure the trip itself is as attractive and enjoyable as the final destination. You want to have the good food and the kitchy gift shops, because THESE are the people who HAVE the disposable income, the people who are on vacation and looking to drop money on these things along the way.

Every little bit in making the journey more interesting and enjoyable helps swing a decision. Having nothing but a big empty space with deck chairs and a couple vending machines is a good way to help ensure they pick Whistler next time.
I totally understand that thousands of tourist take these ferries and they have lots of disposable income ready to pump into BC's economy. I never said we should eliminate the gift shops entirely as I do think they are nice to have. My first stop when I get on the ferry is the gift shop to buy a magazine.

My issue is the multiple food sources, spa, lounges, etc.

I would like to see some stats on how much revenue these amenities generate and how much of that revenue is brought in by tourists. In general, I think having a cost analysis of the whole thing would shut most of us arm-chair critics up.

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First of all if you read my post about Transport Canada's minimum safe manning requirements, those 20 kitchen staff (since they all hold marine safety certifications) are there to meet those requirements. They just happen to sell food/gifts in the meantime. Do you think having a crew twiddling their thumbs for an hour and a half is a more efficient use of their time?
Yes, you are right. I understand these people are essential to the ships safety, I guess I am just overall frustrated with cost of everything and try to think of some way it can be brought down (ya know, because they would TOTALLY listen to me )
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:58 AM   #57
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When my wife and I are heading home on a later sailing (ie 7:00) we'll often have dinner on the boat because by the time we get home (9:00) it's way too late to want to eat. It works for us, and obviously for a lot of other people because you can always expect a giant line at the cafeteria every time you get on board.
If I'm heading to the island or Sunshine Coast, it's usually for work these days, and usually getting the first boat in the morning. And since I'm coming from Pitt Meadows, I have to leave super early, not only to allow myself the usual hour-or-so travel time, but enough buffer time to claim my reservation (*just in case* the sailing is full, since getting the next boat usually means I'm too late to do the work I need to do). That usually means no time to get breakfast on the road (no fast-food joints most of the way anyway)... if I'm going to Vic I can MAYBE grab breakfast at the terminal shops, but there's not much for a quick breakie in Horseshoe Bay at that hour. So being able to get breakfast and coffee on the boat is a big plus for me too.

For as long as I can remember, anytime we've got on a ferry (dozens if not hundreds of crossings since I was a kid), it seems like 80% of the people head straight for the food services first - whether they need to or not, it seems getting a meal the instant you get on the boat is The Thing To Do. I simply cannot believe that the cafeterias on these things aren't making money hand over fist.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:02 AM   #58
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I would say that an adaptive pricing model would be effective. Maybe we just don't have a "one way price to Victoria for the summer and winter months" but a busy times price, and a slow times price.

Like dino said, if you are on a tourist trip to the island, or coming to the mainland and can wait until 11am, then you save money. If you must be on the 730 sailing, then you pay premium, as demand is high.

They are losing money on sailing a scheduled sailing even if the passengers don't show up. Well, come on guys, you've been at this for 20 years, you should know by now when people are going to be there and when they aren't.

PLUS, it gives you some free fucking marketing. People complain about the price? Tell them to take the cheap, mid-week sailing, making it YOUR fault for not changing your plans, not OUR fault for gouging you.

I don't want to get into the cafeteria and gift shop issue, unless someone says we operate it at a loss, then I say pull it. Honestly, as I said, staffing for those areas isn't based on hamburgers we can sell on the trip, but passengers that we need safety personnel to cover, so even if you shut down the cafeteria, you still have a bunch of people milling around waiting to sink. Might as well have something for them to do.

Now, in terms of all those extras, one thing no one has mentioned is the size of ferry we are buying that has these extra spaces built in. I'm sure a ferry gets a lot cheaper to buy if its a bare bones, stripper model. Maybe all the runs don't need the luxury treatment?

And can someone tell me why we have a tsawwassen-Nanaimo run? Fine if its full, but thats a lot of fuel for a ferry thats not at capacity, and its another ferry to maintain and build.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:14 AM   #59
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And can someone tell me why we have a tsawwassen-Nanaimo run? Fine if its full, but thats a lot of fuel for a ferry thats not at capacity, and its another ferry to maintain and build.
The route was created specifically for truck traffic. Horseshoe Bay is a terrible place for trucks, with all the steep hills, tight turns, and relatively limited staging areas. Tsawwassen is easier for most of them to get to, especially any coming up from the states, with far less risk.

At that point, if you just take them all to Swartz Bay, trucks bound up-island would have to go over the Malahat - also not a truck-friendly route. The Duke Point terminal also doesn't dump out directly into a residential area in downtown Nanaimo, like Departure Bay does - it empties through existing industrial lands, straight onto the Island Highway.

Basically, the whole thing is designed from the ground up to accommodate trucks. That includes the primary ship they use - if you look at the layout of the Queen of Alberni | BC Ferries - British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., it's got less passenger space vs. the vehicle deck space compared to the other C-class boats, because with a higher percentage of truck traffic, it doesn't need to fit as many people. And unlike the other major runs, they do normally only operate the one ship.
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I would say that an adaptive pricing model would be effective. Maybe we just don't have a "one way price to Victoria for the summer and winter months" but a busy times price, and a slow times price.

Like dino said, if you are on a tourist trip to the island, or coming to the mainland and can wait until 11am, then you save money. If you must be on the 730 sailing, then you pay premium, as demand is high.
They already had this, it was called the Coast Saver promotion and offered lower fares for off-peak times. It didn't do well.

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They are losing money on sailing a scheduled sailing even if the passengers don't show up. Well, come on guys, you've been at this for 20 years, you should know by now when people are going to be there and when they aren't.
On the Vic-Van route, they already cut back their sailing schedules for the winter season to odd hour sailings (Two ships on the route). That's two hours in between sailings. How do you cut that down further? Down to one ship, at four hours between sailings? That won't work either.
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I don't want to get into the cafeteria and gift shop issue, unless someone says we operate it at a loss, then I say pull it. Honestly, as I said, staffing for those areas isn't based on hamburgers we can sell on the trip, but passengers that we need safety personnel to cover, so even if you shut down the cafeteria, you still have a bunch of people milling around waiting to sink. Might as well have something for them to do.

Now, in terms of all those extras, one thing no one has mentioned is the size of ferry we are buying that has these extra spaces built in. I'm sure a ferry gets a lot cheaper to buy if its a bare bones, stripper model. Maybe all the runs don't need the luxury treatment?
They HAVE more "stripped down" ships on different routes. For example, the Coastal Renaissance on the Duke-Point run doesn't have buffet, wifi etc...

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And can someone tell me why we have a tsawwassen-Nanaimo run? Fine if its full, but thats a lot of fuel for a ferry thats not at capacity, and its another ferry to maintain and build.
Heavy trucks. They aren't allowed on the Horseshoe bay-Departure Bay route.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:30 AM   #61
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But there again, you're thinking like a commuter... not like an out-of-town, out-of-province, or out-of-country tourist.
Tourist season is during the summer months. During those times you have sailing waits sometimes multiple saling waits. During the rest of the read except major holidays the boat are not busy. A lot of times less than a 1/4 full. I also don't think a stripped down service is going to stop tourist from coming to the island. What will stop them is high prices.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:54 AM   #62
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I asked some questions, and got some good answers. Thanks!
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:45 PM   #63
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With almost any other union position, I'd be the first to agree... in this case, however, you have to remember that (as mentioned previously) every person working on that boat has been trained in emergency and lifesaving procedures and if shit gets real, their ONLY job becomes making sure YOU get off the boat safely. That's a massive responsibility and I'm not going to begrudge anyone working on that ship a single cent.

To play devils advocate only one ferry in BC has sank (that I can remember) since I moved here in 1989. I know it was a different type of ferry with actual state rooms in it for a long trip but not only did they not get everyone off the boat the crew sunk the fucking boat by fucking on duty and crashing into a stagnant object, it wasn't even a roaming iceberg.

If for some reason I was on a ferry that was going down I honestly wouldn't have much faith in the crew getting me or my family off safely.
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And yet those same crews manage to move hundreds of thousands of people safely over millions of kilometers across dozens of ships, every year... as you said yourself, only one sinking out of half a decade of travel. You'd be hard pressed to find a better safety record in ANY form of mass transportation.

Remember that these people are trained and tested and re-trained constantly to be able to just go into "duty mode" anytime something goes wrong, and to do what they need to do despite being surrounded by screaming panicked passengers.

In the case of the Queen of the North, remember that it happened in the middle of the night, when a lot of people were already in bed or at least gone back to their cabins. TWO people fucked up... by all passenger reports, everyone else did an incredible job of calmly getting everyone (except two, presumably) off the ship. That's a direct result of the training they receive.
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Old 10-03-2012, 02:42 PM   #65
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And yet those same crews manage to move hundreds of thousands of people safely over millions of kilometers across dozens of ships, every year... as you said yourself, only one sinking out of half a decade of travel. You'd be hard pressed to find a better safety record in ANY form of mass transportation.

Remember that these people are trained and tested and re-trained constantly to be able to just go into "duty mode" anytime something goes wrong, and to do what they need to do despite being surrounded by screaming panicked passengers.

In the case of the Queen of the North, remember that it happened in the middle of the night, when a lot of people were already in bed or at least gone back to their cabins. TWO people were fucking... by all passenger reports, everyone else did an incredible job of calmly getting everyone (except two, presumably) off the ship. That's a direct result of the training they receive.

Fixed




and don't forget when the ferry hit the Duke point terminal during Christmas, my brother was stuck on the boat for hours.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:17 PM   #66
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and don't forget when the ferry hit the Duke point terminal during Christmas, my brother was stuck on the boat for hours.
sooooo you're blaming mechanical breakdown of the Coastal Renaissance on the competency of the on-board crew?
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:33 PM   #67
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interesting infographic for BC Ferries...

I don't understand how those costs add up and create a 16m loss...
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:01 PM   #68
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and don't forget when the ferry hit the Duke point terminal during Christmas, my brother was stuck on the boat for hours.
OH THE HUMANITY!!!

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Old 10-03-2012, 04:09 PM   #69
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interesting infographic for BC Ferries...
If by "interesting" you mean "confusing as fuck"...
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glad I wasn't the only one!
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That is the worst infographic I've ever seen.

"hey! here's what looks to be a comparison of other ferry systems in comparable size, let's see what they do financia....oh never mind, here's some random facts about boats!"
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The gift shop is ridiculous they sell things like jackets and jewellery. They also close down for 15 minutes sometimes so the worker can take a break. They do the same thing for the
cafeteria. it's a 2 hour boat ride take your break when it docks. They should just close the gift shop and put in a few more vending machines. I wonder what the sales numbers are for the gift shop, can't be that much.

For the cafeteria they should just get rid of it and put in a McDonald or a subway. The should also charge the workers for the food they get from the cafeteria.

The problem the the number of customers is in the summer it's packed with sailing waits. You have to get there a hour or more before if you want to drive on. In the other months it is a lot slower.
Unfortunately the problem with all of these suggestions (and many others) is the union will put up a fight. This is the challenge for all the government-funded organizations that are facing financial troubles these days. Any proposed changes that reduces labour, the union won't let happen.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:00 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by Soundy View Post
They cancelled that advertising a couple years ago. Mainly because of the public complaints. Which was mainly because the public don't understand that while the ferries are a necessity for SOME people, the advertising was aimed at people for whom it ISN'T a necessity, to try to get more of them to take the ferries and thereby help subsidize those who NEED the service.
Sure, in theory, the advertising was supposed to be used as a way to promote ridership and tourism revenues.

However, using a sports sponsorship as a way to boost incremental sales is poor strategy at best. If they were truly trying to drum up revenues, the money would have been used to support other forms of advertising. I'd bet the sponsorship was signed because it was sexy to do (nearly every other major player in town was doing it) and gave them an opportunity for executives to check out Canucks games and concerts in a private suite (and sure, probably a little bit of promotional and sales use).

In their defense, they signed the deal when the economy was in way better shape. But when the markets tanked, unfortunately you can't just break a multi-year sponsorship contract without huge penalty. So they were stuck with it and thus suffered from bad PR that eventually came.

Last edited by Eff-1; 10-04-2012 at 12:17 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:02 AM   #75
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One last thing about BC Ferries.

The Pacific Buffet is fantastic.
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