Another PR charade


In August 2017, I wrote to this paper, responding to the BC Ferries Public Engagement Survey. I directed the last paragraph to Mark Collins, CEO BC Ferries. In part: “Mark, the travellers using BC Ferries are both your customers and shareholders. You can start by actually doing something, such as utilizing the existing ships and facilities, running on realistic schedules. Excuses do not cut it. This Public Engagement Survey has been nothing more than a public relations charade. Few are impressed. Please do your job. This will impress us.”

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In the three years since, little has changed, except for ever increasing delays on many routes. Now, we have COVID-19, a catch-all excuse for all shortcomings in the management of BC Ferries. As I noted in my previous letter, management will bring up one incompetence as an excuse for another. In this case, training of seasonal staff required to run additional sailings during the summer was not done, somehow due to COVID-19, so normal service was not implemented.

This spring and summer, the Langdale route experienced routine sailing waits, while the Nanaimo and Victoria routes routinely experienced two-sailing waits. Each route is short a vessel. Not acceptable.

Of course, this is time for another public relations charade, in the form of an invitation to participate in an online survey. Respondents are greeted with: “Your feedback is very important to us and we are delighted that you are participating in this important study. Your ratings and comments will let us know what we are doing well and what areas need attention and improvement.”

So, once again, instead of actually doing something, BC Ferries is conducting another survey.

Clearly, it is time to return BC Ferries to Crown corporation status, so that our elected representatives can provide direction, and make changes, starting with the appointment of a new CEO.

The sailing waits (three and four sailings) this Labour Day weekend highlighted just how far removed from reality the BC Ferries service is from demand.

Perhaps some real world consequences will encourage some real world management.

Howard Sommerfield, Sechelt

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