Friday, May 14, 2010

Monopoly Rules

I’ve long been puzzled by the recorded announcement that rings out near the end of any trip on the B.C. Ferries: “Thank you for sailing B.C. Ferries.”

I mean, really, who else are we going to ‘sail’ with?

Similarly, because the B.C. Ferries are the only show on the water, I wonder why they spend money on advertising. It isn’t as if it’s a matter of swaying us to choose them over some other ferry service. Next time there’s a hockey game based in B.C. (okay, the Canucks have folded camp for the year – I’ve dried my tears), take a look at the boards and see the ads there. Emblazoned are the words, B.C. Ferries. (Not only does the monopoly held by the ferries run ads, so does the lottery corporation – who else you gonna buy lottery tix from?)

It was about ten days ago that I took a couple of ferry rides. On the last leg, I noticed how rusty the boat looked. It may be selective memory, but I don’t remember the ferries looking this bad before they became privatized.

I also don’t remember the scheduling being as tight-fistedly miserable as it seems now. I’d hoped to attend a meeting on Gabriola Island this weekend. Scheduled for 2 pm to 6 pm, I figured I could even have a glass of wine with friends afterward before heading off towards the ferries for home. But a close look at the schedules revealed that the last ferry left (not even Gabriola, but my transfer point on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo) at 5:45 p.m., before the actual meeting was even adjourned. Oddly, going through papers in my office, I ran across a schedule from 1994 (!). Saturdays saw sailings from Nanaimo to Tsawwassen every hour and a half from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. So much for service improving over the years.

Even if I’d been able to stay overnight on the island, next morning’s ferries off the island are ‘unreservable’, so to ensure getting onto the first ship leaving Nanaimo at 10:15, I’d have needed to plan on being at the ferry dock by half past seven. All so I could get home before 1 p.m., in time to make birthday supper, for the family planning to arrive at three. Too frantic sounding, I gave up on being part of the meeting.

All it would have taken would have been at least one of the two evening ships, ferries that are in service every other night of the week. Any other night, I’d have had the option of an 8:15 or a 10:45. I can understand canceling one of the sailings if that’s the slowest night of the week, but really, both?

If schedule cutbacks, a visible lack of maintenance, and higher fares are the costs of privatizing a service that’s really a branch of our provincial highways, I say it looks like a mistake.

Their latest slogan? ‘Experience the difference’[TM] – I’ll say.


Janet Vickers said...

Love the heading to this post!

hg said...

Thanks, Janet!

I try to use titles that can be taken more than way. I also try to do this with the titles embedded in my photos. Click on an image sometime, and watch for its often-silly name.