Ferry service complaints aired

by Edythe Hanen

(The Bowen Island Undercurrent, November 20th 1992, p1: with permission)

Bowen Islanders want better communication from B.C. Ferries. That sentiment was expressed by several islanders who attended a Saturday morning meeting hosted by the Bowen Island Transportation Committee and B.C. Ferries.

The meeting was called to discuss scheduling options that would solve the problem of the lateness of early morning ferries, which resulted in commuters missing the connecting express bus and the school children being late.

According to the Transportation Committee chairman Lorne McLaughlin, some of the problem is due to "multiple vessels moving in Horseshoe Bay within 10 minutes of each other on the first three trips." Operations manager Tom Whelan also said that the situation was not likely to change. He blames the delays on the single-lane loading and unloading on Bowen Island and the "pressure" of new "safety regulations imposed by the Coast Guard following the Nemetz inquiry.

The new schedule will see the early runs advanced 10 minutes, which will provide for a longer turnaround time and allow for commuters to make bus connections even when the ferries are running late.

There were questions as to why the 10:50 a.m. sailing from Bowen Island and the 2:30 p.m. sailing from Horseshoe Bay are consistently late even though the ship has been tied up with no activity for some time before those runs. Whelan explained that these times were scheduled meal breaks and are part of the employees' contract which calls for a half-hour break in the middle of each watch. A broken meal hour, he said, would cost the coporation an extra three hours in pay.

The question of a latenight ferry run was raised and Whelan explained that Bowen Islanders can have any schedule they want as long as it incorporates two eight hour watches. Islands Trustee Graeme Dinsdale commented that 24-hour ferry service would "change the quality of life on Bowen Island."

The new schedule will go into effect Monday, November 23.

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