BC Ferries

A letter to BC Ferries

Republished from the Facebook page of Sean Smith, with permission.

Dear BC Ferries:

I know that you are having a hard time trying to figure out ways to save money. Please, let me help you.

  1. You are not a cruise ship line. You are a bus.
  2. You are not a travel agency. You are the travel method.
  3. You do not need to advertise. You are the ONLY alternative.

So, with these three things in mind, please consider the following.

You need a news stand, not a gift shop. You need a cafeteria, not a restaurant. You don’t need slot machines, you need good WiFi and some big screen TV’s. You don’t need a “marketing department”, you need a full-on Social Media and Customers Service department.

You don’t need a fancy travel office or vacation planning department, you need a plan to keep actual travel agents informed of what is happening with your ferry service.

I shouldn’t see the BC Ferries logo on the boards at Rogers Arena during a Canucks game, or on a TV commercial. Believe it or not, people really are smart enough to figure out that if there isn’t a bridge or a tunnel to the Islands, then they will have to take a ferry or a plane…..and you can’t get your car into carry-on luggage.

See. I just saved you millions upon millions of dollars.

You’re welcome.

Categories: BC Ferries

11 replies »

  1. Thank you Sean Smith and absolutely correct. I would only add one more comment: Have a look at Washington State Ferry system and seriously assess and compare the remuneration paid to the large number of managers. As well, look honestly at the ratio of managers to non-manager employees and tell us public why yours is so much greater. That will save you an additional millions of dollars.

    Thank you for doing an honest assessment of your operation and its costs (I think).


  2. Sean hits the nail on the head. And, he didn't cost millions, like a certain former and another should-be former CEO.

    The purpose of BC Ferries is uncomplicated: move people and vehicles back and forth, day after day, on the same routes. The challenges remain the same from one year to the next. Same as they were ten year ago and will be ten years from now.

    The first step should be to dump 18 directors from British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. and its parent the B.C. Ferry Authority. Fold the operating company back into the Ministry of Transportation as was done t the failed Pacific Carbon Trust.

    With municipal governments, appoint a series of citizen advisory committees from the regions served and pay them nothing. Let them meet through video conferences and limit terms of service to two years. Give them no power but listen to their advice.

    Simplify everything. Learn from Washington State Ferries and join with them to address common issues and share designs and procedures. Consult with industry and return to building ferries in North America. Our neighbours mandate ship construction in Washington and they share BC's need for fleet renewal. Working together presents a perfect opportunity to master reasonable cost projects.


  3. Totally agree with Sean. I've thought the same things for years now. Too many from the middle to the top. The one that really irks me is those GD ferry vacations. Get the H#ll out of the travel agency business, and run the ferries like they were meant to be. People and car movers.


  4. I will never understand how BC Ferries has included in it's mandate to be a lender of millions to a private company. Since BC Ferries receives government funding is it safe to say that taxpayers contributed to this private company (Jawl Properties), which is a contributor to the Liberal party. You would think the NDP would be all over this and have the Minister stand in the House to say it's okay for BC Ferries to lend out money so we can all apply.

    Guy in Victoria


  5. Absolutely correct. The BC government and Ferry executives should study the Washington Sate Ferry System to learn how to run a ferry system “properly and efficiently” and without any of the BS that seems to emanate from anything the BC Liberal government touches..

    The tree things that are needed to do this properly are honesty, integrity and expertise – all lacking in the current executives.

    It sure would be nice to see something done properly by the BC Liberal government for a change – though I am not holding my breath on this one.



  6. Sean Smith for CEO! I'd vote for the guy also.

    Lets hope someone sends his letter to every MLA and newspaper in the province.

    It maybe the B.C. Lieberals are using the tried and true “shock doctrine” to accomplish a few things they don't want us to think about right now. This announcement was simply to “soften” us up. There could be a couple of other things at play.

    When el gordo was running out of money, he started selling off B.C. assets. In the Comox Valley it was Lanan Woods, a local park. Other properties were sold also, at the time. Now what if what this is really about is selling off B.C. assets to friends and “family”?

    Horseshoe Bay is used for 2 other runs, but Departure Bay is used only for traffic to Horse Shoe bay. departure bay could be sold for a lot of money, to help of course pay down the BC. deficit and make some one else a lot of money. there is currently a plan underway to build a 20 story hotel in Nanaimo with off shore money. now imagine a showy resort with semi deep water to accomodate some of those floating palaces owned by the super rich. We had some oligarch's yacht in Nanoose Bay summer of 2013 and there have been a lot of others. We have a trade agreement with China and China has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 35 million, millionnaires. The homes around and over looking departure bay are not expensive when compared with similar properties on the lower mainland and Victoria. Sell Departure Bay, the province pockets the money just in time for the next election. Some one else gets a great deal on a Harbour and everybody but the tax paying citizens of B.C. benefit.

    Its not so far out there, if it is true the b.c. lieberals sold the amublance station in the west end. Yes, so word is, the B.C. Ambulance station in the west end, which was government property has been sold. To whom, who knows? How much was paid, who knows. Of course the question now is, where will the ambulance and staff go. What is going to be done to the site? How much else is being sold off by the b.c. lieberals lately?

    There could also be the small matter of the rich land owners around the upper levels highway don't want to hear all that traffic. The Mayor of West Van suggested they would not be happy to loose the business. The Mayor of North Vancouver seemed to convey the message, that all that extra traffic was cumbersome for his town. Now if you spent $5 Million and up to $24 Million for your house, would you want to hear all that extra traffic. What if you could have it diverted? Nice quiet area, more value to your property.

    Tod Stone did his I'm so shocked impression but I'm not buying any of it. This was a little trial balloon and if the lieberals think they can get away with it and make money, that ferry route will be gone and we will all be paying tolls to get to the Tswassen ferry terminal.

    The whole thing does not make sense. For the last few years we have had reductions to ferry runs out of Duke Point, we have heard Duke Point might not be viable and suddenly we have, lets get rid of the HorseShoe Bay to Vancouver Island run. Its not about saving money. Its about something else.

    If B.C. Ferries wanted to save money they would simply re negotiate that 10% interest rate on the $2 Billion loan el gordo took out when the last ferries were built in Germany. You can get a mortgage for under 3% these days, so why is B.C. Ferries paying 10% on a coupe of billion dollars except to make the German banks a lot of money.


  7. I was surprised to see that Global TV covered Sean's letter on their late night news on Wednesday. Apparently it has gained traction which can't help but get the attention of our current provincial government. I'd also like to hear the likes of Vaughn Palmer slough this off as the rants of someone in his/her underpants.


  8. Today they're paving the mess they've made down to the Denman ferry slip, which will be decommissioned when the new cable ferry gets here sometime next year. I wonder if BC Ferries Inc., the freakish frankenstein private-public “hybrid” created to hide the books from its real owners, the taxpayers, might have saved even more money if it'd asked Transport Canada if the targeted three-man deck crew, supposed to underpin the rationale for this project, will be permitted on safety grounds (imagine a vehicle fire on a fully loaded 50-car sailing—now count the crew needed to suppress the fire and manage the passengers all at the same time…) I mean, BCFS Inc. might have saved a lot of money if it had asked Transport Canada about the required number of deckhands first, before starting construction of the new ferry, instead of last, after the destruction of the old, but still perfectly functional ferry. I'm not sure they've even broached the question yet. But, as a sage elder I spoke with at the flu shot clinic yesterday said: the cable ferry is about bankrupting the publicly owned ferry system (yes, still is 100% publicly owned)—that is, doing its part in bankrupting—not about saving money at all. When Transport Canada says, “No, you may not man this boat with any number less than six deckhands,” which is the number we have now with the little self-propelled ferry, the virtual saboteurs of BC Ferries will throw their hands up in the air in mock horror—and smirk their usual smirk.

    To add loss upon intentional loss, the slips at both ends of the Denman-Buckley Bay run have just received millions of dollars in refurbishment—now, I suppose, all for naught, as the new ramps for the cable ferry must face each other directly, which, incidentally, puts both berths perpendicular to the storm southeasters, and well out of the protective lee in which both slips are currently oriented. We all wonder what a full, beam-on storm southeaster will be like when the ferry gets side-slopped out to the full extent of the slack that's supposed to be lying on the bottom. Even the construction workers shake their heads at the painfully obvious design problems.

    I won't be surprised to hear BCFS Inc. blame Islanders for demanding a cable ferry, when, truth be known, every single supposed “consultation” with Islanders (including Hornby Islanders, let's not forget) was met with clear and vocal unanimity against a cable ferry, and an unabashed disbelief in the bullshit stats presented by BCFS Inc. that were supposed to rationalize this intentional boondoggle.

    For our protest we are rewarded with the highest fare increases in BC. The populations of both islands have dropped for the first time since before WW II—Hornby's by 12%, twice as much as Denman's, probably because they have twice as many ferries to get to work or school. We've known about our targeting ever since BCFS Inc. started putting the prefix “money-losing” in front of anything to do with our ferry service.

    The original proposal included contracting out the service to private profiteers—-an idea so repugnant to Islanders that it was soon after rescinded. For this we're expected to be grateful, right?


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