BC Ferries

Here you learn "the rest of the story"

I pay little attention to AM radio nowadays. My audio library of spoken words—gathered mostly from American and European sources—is much more informative. However, while in the car last week, I heard the July 26 4pm news read by Terry Schintz on CKNW.  One item seemed out of place because it was not a news report, it was an apologia for David Hahn, the generously paid CEO of BC Ferries.

CKNW’s Terry Schintz:

BC Ferries boss David Hahn making no apologies for his wealthy pension plan and overall compensation. …Hahn says the BC Ferries Board made it clear when he was brought in it wanted a private sector approach to cleaning up the fleet.

David Hahn:

It’s probably, umm, a lot more than most people would like to see me being paid – and the other, ah, key members of the team – but, on the other hand, the results, ah, speak for themself.

Terry Schintz:

Hahn says people are starting to forget about the never ending ferry line-ups from years gone by...

The audio clip of Hahn used on NW’s prime 4 o’clock news was taken from Bill Good’s talk show earlier that day. There Skipper Hahn got the usual deferential—or is that reverential—treatment.

NW might defend softball treatment by talk show commentators but there is no place for it within the newscasts. Where was the balance, the rest of the story about Hahn’s remuneration? Should not his self-serving remark have been accompanied by information that he earns eight times the amount of the Washington State Ferry CEO and even more than the top executives of international shipping and ferry operator Stena Line.

Of course, Hahn’s statement that the Board (a self-perpetuating one which elects its own members) wanted a “private sector approach” is meaningless. Sure, the worst examples of private sector business allow executives to loot treasuries almost at will but authentic, respected private enterprises manage assets for the long term benefit of the owners.

In the private sector that I know, non-owner executives are paid according to levels typical in similar businesses. There is no excuse for the extravagance of BC Ferries senior management.

Besides, Mr. Hahn, the results do not speak for themselves.

The German built ferries have been and remain problematic, less efficient and usable than the BC built Spirit Class ships. Recently, we learned the $20 million BC Ferries is offering as subsidy to the billionaire owners of Washington Marine Group is a requirement of the Harper Government established during negotiations over duties imposed when the German-built ferries were imported. WMG already scored millions by selling three fast cat ferries to Abu Dhabi. (Wow. Friends sure take care of friends in this world.)

Customer satisfaction remains low, fares are punishingly high, rising well above the inflation rate. Since 2003, rates have increased as much as 80 per cent on some routes. Service sometimes is below minimum safety standards. For example, on the Powell River-Comox run, a patron recently complained in a letter to the Powell River Peak newspaper after finding that ship elevator service was unavailable for an aging relative, She said,

When it comes to the safety factor, exactly what arrangements are made to help those who are struggling to climb the stairs? Will they be assisted in case of an emergency?

The answer is no. Executive salaries and pensions are more important than elevators and customer service staff.

Categories: BC Ferries, CKNW

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6 replies »

  1. And even the line-up comment is pure codswallop.

    Because if you refuse to pay the ridiculous reservation fee (how many other 'private' transportation services make you pay through the nose for booking ahead?*), the line up may be numerically smaller than the old days but it sure as heckfire isn't necessarily shorter, in terms of time, at peak times given how the % of reservation spaces has ratcheted up over the years.

    *Of course, what the reservation shuffle is really all about is imposing a fare hike with out calling it thusly (and being subject to ferry commission edicts)



  2. Isn't WMG, who Christy's brother worked for? I have to go back and look, I think there was something about, the corrupt sale of the BCR being involved?


  3. The line-ups are down because traffic is down, not because of Hahn’s genius. Here in their own words, BC Ferries says traffic levels are significantly lower, and are the major driving force behind their revenue losses.

    “On February 2, 2011, BC Ferries issued an investor update identifying an anticipated net loss for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012
    • The loss, estimated to be in the range of $20 million, is largely driven by significantly lower traffic levels.
    • Despite the loss, BC Ferries has no plans to reduce its refit and maintenance plans, training, safety programs or capital programs.
    • Although lower traffic levels are the major driver, other contributing factors to this loss are such items as the Harmonized Sales Tax, Transport Canada requirements and costs associated with Bill 20 Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No.3) – 2010.”



  4. Please please a politician who says they will build a road from Powell River to Lillooet. It would save time and money and green house gases by not funnelling us poor Islanders through the big pollution of the lower mainland. It would definitely be better than the Perimeter Road through Delta


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