It has been quite the week for BC Ferries ó especially here on the Sunshine Coast.
Travel plans were sent spinning early last Saturday morning when a mechanical breakdown forced the Queen of Coquitlam into dry dock for repairs, leaving only the Queen of Surrey on the Langdale - Horseshoe Bay route.
It meant long delays for three days, with more than 500 vehicles in overloads at the Langdale terminal Sunday night. A midnight sailing was added out of Langdale to finally clear the backlog of traffic.
From reports we heard, terminal staff were terrific, offering water to weary passengers and trying to keep the public up to date as much as possible.
As media spokesperson Deborah Marshall pointed out to us in an interview Monday morning, there is never a good time for a breakdown, but during a busy summer weekend, it is even worse.
BC Ferries is often criticized for its lack of customer service, and the terminal workers and those who are onboard the vessels often are the ones who feel the brunt of that criticism. In this case (and in most cases), the ferry workers should be given a shout out for handling the situation as best they could and offering the best service they could manage under very trying circumstances. And to the engineers who worked for days to get the Coquitlam back up and running ó thanks, too, for your efforts.
No one can control mechanical issues. Letís face it, we are dealing with an aging fleet, and breakdowns are inevitable no matter how well you try to maintain the vessels. Itís just unfortunate when those breakdowns seem to happen at the worst times ó when the traffic is the heaviest and on weekends.
If we are going to offer some critical comments this week, we would direct them to the ferry board for approving perks and bonuses to ferry executives after a modest profit was shown this year.
Last Friday it was revealed that the board of directors boosted salary and perks for the CEO and almost doubled bonuses for two executive vice-presidents in the fiscal year that ended March 31.
Board chair Donald Hayes has not been available for comment all week when pressed by various media outlets. Itís not surprising. How can the board justify these pay increases to a corporation that is trying to reduce its expenses, and is undergoing intense public and government reviews?
Critics have been quick to slam the board for this move. Even B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone is less than impressed. And we join in this vocal discontent. When is the gravy boat going to stop flowing to the top big wigs?
So this week, a big thumbs up for the ferry workers and a big thumbs down to the executive. It never gets boring when it comes to BC Ferries, does it?