Friday, January 30, 2009

All in all, they’d rather have taken a plane

"We were completed our work two weeks early and we thought customers would be happy to have the ferry back"-- BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall providing the Ferry Corporations take on the resumption of services to the Queen Charlottes.

From the always popular, you can’t please everyone file, comes the latest bit of a backlash against BC Ferries over on the Queen Charlottes. That as the Ferry Corporation heard more than a few complaints about the end of their temporary airlift put in place by dock construction on the Charlottes.

With the Queen of Prince Rupert back in service last weekend, BC Ferries brought to an end their scheduled service of flights to Prince Rupert, deciding that with the ferry set to sail last Sunday, there was no need for a flight as well.

However, with weather delays slowing down the progress of the scheduled sailing, passengers now shifted back to the world of marine transportation found themselves adding an extra ten hours to their travel time. Leaving more than a couple of them wondering why the Sunday flight couldn’t have gone ahead.

The Daily news outlines the frustrations in Thursday’s paper.

Cancelled flight annoys some
Early return to service of ferry, scrapping of flight delays passengers
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Pages one and

Those left stranded on Haida Gwaii an extra day because of a BC Ferries decision to cancel its flight on Sunday from Sands pit will get no sympathy from the ferry operator. According to Communications Officer Deborah Marshall, the decision to cut the flight with Hawkair Saturday was made as a cost-saving move because running parallel services would have been a waste.

"We were completed our work two weeks early and we thought customers would be happy to have the ferry back," said Marshall.

There was a palpable moan from some who were stuck on the ferry, which did not depart for an extra 10 hours because of rough water in Hecate Strait. The Queen of Prince Rupert did not dock in Rupert until 3 a.m., meaning some missed a whole day of work on Monday and would be tired for work on Tuesday because of the cancelled flight and ferry delay.

Upgrades to the ferry docks to accommodate the arrival of the Northern Expedition were completed by Fraser River Pile Drivers in both Skidegate and Prince Rupert two weeks before the expected finish in early February.

Marshall could not provide financial details as to how much the air-service would have cost the ferry operator to make one last run.

"We had the ferry dock finished on

Thursday night and so we could not make the decision to open it sooner than that to alert customers about it," said Marhall.

She said the North Coast community had been telling BC Ferries to get the dock opened as soon as possible and certainly with the All Native Basketball Tournament, it is a logistical relief for the ANBT organizers to know that the ferry will get Haida Gwaii-based teams over to Rupert for the start of the event.

Residents on the Islands will have the opportunity to get over to the Prince Rupert a little earlier than expected, though. BC Ferries announced that it had modified many of its North Coast sailings, with a Feb. 4 sailing from Skidegate to Prince Rupert that leaves at 7 a.m. and docks in Rupert, if all things go well, at 2 p.m.

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