Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dear BC Ferries…WTF?

Dear BC Ferries,

I feel like you and I have known each other a long time. I’m 39 and have lived on Vancouver Island nearly all my life so we go way back. I even remember the old days when smoking was allowed and the floors were covered with that funky green and beige patterned carpet. I’ve spent many an hour in the parking lot waiting to board a ferry at Swartz Bay on my way to Vancouver. Seen many a market stall come and go.

When I was a child, I loved taking the ferry. It meant we were going somewhere exciting or interesting. I guess back then I was too young to notice my parents’ building anxiety as we approached the terminal. This was in the days before the $17.50 reservation fee was available. Would we miss the sailing? Would we get to hang out in the cafeteria for an extra hour? Oh Joy.

Now that I have my own kids and busy life, taking the ferry has a whole new meaning for me and frankly, it’s not that good. Sure I know what you’re thinking: If you don’t like it, then don’t live on an island. Well, BC Ferries, it’s not that easy and really you want to be careful with that kind of an attitude as it’s people like me who pay your bonuses every year. I should note that I do have some happy memories of trips on BC Ferries. Like I really appreciate it when you arrange for killer whales to make an appearance. And Active Pass is spectacular so thanks for that, too. Oh wait, that was mother nature. OK strike that. I’ll let her know instead.

As I write this I’m sitting in an arm chair in my Aunt and Uncle’s house on Gambier Island. Gambier Island is in the Howe Sound, near Gibson’s Landing on the Sunshine Coast. I’ve been coming here every summer since I was a girl and I love it. It takes me approximately 7 hours and three ferries to get here which is plenty of time to really immerse myself in your culture, BC Ferries. I’ve been looking for a way to really let you know what I think so here’s my top list of ways you could help me, your customer, out:

1. Have one of your staff try to drive off the Nanaimo – Horseshoe Bay Ferry in Horseshoe Bay, and then drive back to the terminal to take the Langdale Ferry. Go on. Just try it. I defy you to do it without wondering at least 12 times if you are going the right way. Let me know how that goes and whether you need any help or not with perhaps some SIGNAGE. And then envision someone from another country trying to do this. I only say this as there may be a few extra people here from other countries next year. In February, to be specific.

2. You may also want to put someone on the Sea to Sky highway just at the point of the exit to Horseshoe Bay and count the number of near-misses as cars realize at the last second that actually they were planning on going to Whistler, not the ferry terminal, or vice-versa. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure this may be a bit of an issue in a few months. Like in February 2010 for example. Might want to take  a look at that one before then. I saw three cars zip across the lanes at the last second, right in front of me. I’ll leave that one with you and Highways.

3. While we’re on the topic of Horseshoe Bay, may I suggest you invest in some re-numbering of the lanes. Telling someone to proceed down lane 10 when in fact there is no lane 10 is…well…confusing. And I don’t know if you’ve done it lately, but the other thing that happens after you muddle your way through the imaginary lane 10 is that you come out into a large area with even more lanes, and a sign that directs you to lanes 73 – 84. WTF, BC Ferries? And then there was an employee with the gall to actually look frustrated with me. I asked him about the sign that says ‘this way to lane 73-84’ and why there wasn't a lane 10 and he just shrugged and told me to proceed. Yeah. Sure. Whatever, Buddy.

4. My next point is on behalf of the other parents who have small children who still use the Children’s area. Dude, it’s lame. Get some new stuff in there. I know I know, people will take it if it’s not nailed down but you can still do better than one plastic boat. I know you can.

5. Dude, the food. $8.49 is too much for a salad. But what I really want to say is why are you trying to poison my children? Just so you know, BC Ferries, most parents prefer not to feed their child a hamburger or hot dog or chicken strips PLUS a chocolate pudding, 2 cups of pop, and greasy French fries. And why do you put that sign advertising said poison at child height? Here’s a newsflash: parents prefer their kids to eat things like cheese & crackers, tuna sandwiches, whole grains, FRESH fruit, milk, water, that sort of thing. And there’s these things called vegetables. I know you know about them ‘cuz you sell a bowl of them for $10. They are generally considered a healthy choice for kids  - one that is not potentially going to cut their precious lives short like pudding or pop. I’ll think of them as my children, but you can think of them as future customers if that helps.



So that’s enough complaining out of me for now. I just thought you should know.

Yours sincerely,



Until next time…


  1. aaaarrgghh! We woke up at 4:30 am to get the Horseshoe Bay ferry last week, spent about 3 hours waiting on the highway so we couldn't go into the village, then got on the 10 am (barely). Then, they ran out of waffles and bacon (which we were prepared to pay a ransom for).

    Darren thinks they should auction the last 10 or so spots on each ferry to the highest bidder and donate the profit to charity :)

  2. I just bought a cheeseburger ferry pack. They split it. Am I a bad mom?

  3. I'm on the line with Social Services right now.