Saturday, February 11, 2012

BC Ferries Air



Update: A couple of small corrections to the original post are noted at the bottom

Remember that old slogan from BC Ferries that went something like this:

"Follow The Birds To Victoria."

Well, now you can fly with them.


The birds, I mean.

One of BC's most-favoured spokesthingies has (part of) the story:

B.C. Ferries has run out of ships. Over the coming week, the corporation will take to the air to move people between Powell River and Comox.

A Pacific Coastal Airways aircraft has been chartered to ferry passengers stranded in the two coastal towns by the breakdown of the Queen of Burnaby, which is going to drydock for repairs to a propeller hub.

B.C. Ferries has flown passengers before, but it happens on "extremely rare" occasions, spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said.

The problem with the Queen of Burnaby occurred as many other vessels were in for regular refit, she said.

The North Island Princess, a much smaller vessel that normally runs between Powell River and Texada Island, will go into service between Powell River and Comox for two round trips each day, she said.

Those who need to get across the strait for medical needs will have priority on the flight. Any other seats will to go to others as long as they make reservations.

Those who fly will pay the regular B.C. Ferries fare....


Who has the rest of the story?

Well, it sure as heck isn't the proMedia and/or their minions who refuse to even ask follow-up questions.

And the rest of the story is most certainly not found within the bright shiny 'reports' that were recently released from BC Ferries itself and the Ferry Commissioner.


If you head on over to a couple of blogs, Tidal Station or On the Waterfront, you will learn that it appears that there is a whole lotta unscheduled maintenance going on in the wake of David Hahn's recent sell-off of 'surplus' ships.

In fact, it looks like maybe, just maybe, the remaining ships are being pulled out refit before repairs have actually been completed because the fleet was left so depleted by the ol' straightshooter with the golden parachute wings.

Here's the way former proMedia maritime beat writer Chris Montgomery put it earlier today over at 'On The Waterfront':

"...(W)ould you feel differently about this week’s ferry “problems” if you read a news story that said the Queen of Burnaby was being pulled from service, causing huge headaches for passenger and commercial traffic, to return for very expensive repairs to a part of the propulsion system* that should have been addressed during an $11-million refit just two months earlier?..."

The good news is.....We're pretty sure that Pacific Coastal Airways has a much better 'hard landing' record than BC Ferries, which one of the straight-shooter's former fair-haired boys attempted to wave away not long ago.
The reasons the seagulls used to swirl about the stern of the ferries actually had very little to do with hitching a ride and/or getting into the slipstream....Instead, it was more about the garbage.
*Update: In an earlier version we had written 'steering' system rather than 'propulsion' system...Sorry about that...Has been corrected over at 'On The Waterfront' as well....We also thank on of our oldest blogging friends, BC Mary, for reminding us that the old BCF tagline was actually 'Follow the birds to Victoria'...I originally had it as 'Vancouver Island'...


Grant G said...

Transcript of the Christy Clark show, November 12/2009...Part I

Clark "How much of a difference has his leadership made at BC Ferries? It`s a company that now delivers a half a billion dollars in profit back to you and I !{sic} the taxpayers and don`t forget, we didn`t start making this profit until after David Hahn took over and started cleaning it up.

So how much is that worth to you? And to me, the people who pay taxes in this Province? Yes, we could cut David Hahn`s pay. We could save the corporation maybe a hundred, two hundred, maybe three hundred grand a year. And then when he leaves and is replaced by somebody who`s willing to work for less, how much profit will there be left for the taxpayer to garner?

Would we be earning four hundred million instead of five? Three hundred million insted of five? Maybe we`d be earning the same amount. The fact is no one knows. But are you willing to take that risk? Are you willing to risk hundreds of millions in profits to save perhaps a couple of hundred thousand dollars in salary?

The fact is that leadership really does matter. And in the case of BCFerries, it`s pretty easy to argue David Hahn`s leadership in particular has made a very, very big difference. Is he overpaid? I don`t know. I `m not really sure what the job is worth

. But I do know that five hundred million dollars in profit back to you and I {sic} the taxpayer, is a pretty good deal.

What do you think...604-280-9898...*9898 on your cell."

Grant G said...

Part II


And then Brian was first caller up.....Clark "Hi Brian"

Brian..Hi Christy, you know, I don`t know where you get your facts from, but you know BC Ferries has a $1.4 billion dollar capital debt. In the last fiscal reported quarter, April, May and june of this year, they didn`t even make enough money to cover their operating expenses and interest payments, which is fifty million dollar per year on their capital debt. Plus the Province subsidizes BC Ferries to the tune of almost two hundred million dollars a year. Where do you get this $500 million dollar profit amount from?

Clark--They, they return that to the taxpayer. It is on, you can find it in public accounts.

Brian--Yea, well, I suggest that you do a little more scanning and talk to Gary Coons, uh the, ferry critic....Because BC Ferries is in, is right now, is in a financial disaster.uh!

Clark-but they don`t have a fi, they don`t have a capital debt, though. Brian, because

Brian--Yes they do!..$1.4 billion dollars!

Clark-No, hold on, hold on, listen, listen, listen! listen. They don`t have a capital debt. though, because of David Hahn. They have a capital debt largely because we spent so much money on the fast ferries that there was no money left over to actually look after the ferries that were going to work in british Columbia. They had to build new ferries.

Brian--No, your wrong on that. Christy, because when Hahn took over, all the debt that BC Ferries had was retired by the Province. Hahn came in there was a clean slate. And this $1.4 billion dollar debt has been gathered up since Hahn has been at the-

Clark-But he, but, Brian, my point is he came in with BC Ferries that were, a fleet that was, in such a bad state of dis-repair, I mean, some of the ferries were, I think, thirty or forty years old


Clark-They had to be upgraded

Brian-No, no no

Clark-and there was no money to do it because it had been misspent in previous years. That money for the fast ferries should have gone into upgrading the fleet over those years.

Brian--Christy, I have been riding the ferries for thirty years. The, the Langdale run, the island, there are no more sailings than there ever was {sic} The schedule`s been the same for three decades on the Sunshine coast. Uh, they sunk a ferry under Hahn...The fast ferries were a bad design and, and is at issue, but, that the fast ferries had nothing to do with maintenance of the fleet-


Brian-Or money taken away from ferries-

Clark-Of course it did!

Brian-No it didn`t!

Clark-Of course it did, all those years-

Brian-Look at the convention center--

Clark-All of, oh, come on! Leave the convention center out of this! That`s, that`s crazy. The money that went into the fast ferries was diverted from BC Ferries budget and it shoud have gone into replacing the ancient archaic, old fleet. And it didn`t! That`s why there`s a capital debt at BC ferries. Make no doubt. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The convention center doesn`t have a whole lot to do with that Brian.


Grant G said...

Perhaps some caller might ask Christy Clark on Monday on the Billy Good show if she still stands by her statements and opinion of BC Ferries.

Full story at my place, adios

RossK said...

Good luck to Brian...Hope he gets on...

Although, I reckon screening will be on uber-alert for folks with real questions.

Heckfire, perhaps even Mr. Good's former 'producer' will be pressed into service.


lynx said...

Flying Ferries. Ain't privatization great?!

I would like to add that just on a safety issue alone the small Texada Island ferry that they have put on as a replacement on the Powell River - Comox run is not built for the open water in the middle of the strait. They must be watching the weather and the winds very closely. That is a very risky choice for a replacement ferry imo.

Christina Montgomery said...

Hi RossK, I must apologize for an error in that quote you used from my post.
It's a prop problem they have, so of course it's the propulsion system I should have referred to, not the steering system...
Not sure how that came out of my fingertips, maybe you would be good enough to correct it.

BC Mary said...


A quibble here. I thoughtit was "Follow the birds to VICTORIA." Googling that line, I found more than I ever want to hear about GARBAGE ... not only were the seagulls after the stuff being dumped overboard from the ferries, and stuff out of dump-sites in Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, etc., but eventually the City of Victoria decided to give it up and created the Hartland Landfill Site where Pender Islanders like me, stopped off en route to "town" for groceries & stuff , to dispose of our own little bags of things we couldn't compost, or turn into firewood.

Songs should be written about Pender Island, which has perfected the "leave a light footprint" rule as they not only re-use, re-fuse, re-cycle but they also sell things that are salvaged (compost, crushed glass, heaps more I can't remember), turning a nice profit each year, and accept trade-ins (refrigerators, electric stoves, which people can buy) Jeez, sorry to run on like this ....

... well, when Victoria decided to stop being the chief dumping station ... that's when all those other cities rushed in, and the slogan got changed to:

Follow the Birds to Vancouver Island.

We were downright "visionary", weren't we? just like Gordo, when we chose Victoria to be not just our [Garbage] Capital City. but the seat of Provincial Government. Or did I just imagine it, that there's always a bit of a smudge on our Legislative Assembly?

RossK said...

Thanks lynx--

I believe Chris has all of that stuff detailed also at her place.


Fixed and update noted

Thanks Mary--

Also fixed....And yes, the Garden City, sure does like to make fertilizer and coliforms both.