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‘Drop trailers’ adding to congestion, delays on BC Ferries, trucking company says


Amid a summer plagued by ferry cancellations, delays and long waits, one trucking company says a BC Ferries commercial freight policy is making things worse.

The program, known as “drop trailer service,” allows some commercial operators to drop their truck trailers at a BC Ferries terminal. BC Ferries workers then load the trailers on to a vessel for transit, where it’s picked up on the other side.

But Penta Transport argues the driverless trailers are taking up deck space, leaving its drivers and the general public waiting at congested terminals.

Click to play video: 'Tips to score a BC Ferries reservation'

Tips to score a BC Ferries reservation

Penta Transport vice-president Kendra Slawson said the driverless trailers should be shipped by barge instead.

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“When they started this drop trailer service they promised everyone that no live bodies would be left behind, this service was to fill the space that’s not being utilized to keep rates lower,” she said.

“Now we’re told that it’s all reservable space, so they can go into their system, reserve that space for drop trailers, and therefore the general public and the rest of us are getting left behind because we don’t have those same opportunities to manipulate the reservation system.”

BC Ferries told Global News the drop trailer service moves essential goods such as groceries.

It further insisted the space allocated for drop trailers is separate from the reservable space allocated for the travelling public.

“If there’s live bodies getting left behind, those drop trailers should not be on the ferries. We should be moving the general public,” Slawson said.

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries frustrations continue to mount'

BC Ferries frustrations continue to mount

The critique came as ferry travellers faced more delays — and confusion.

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Before noon, the company was already tweeting about an eight to nine sailing wait for non-reservation vehicles travelling between Victoria and Vancouver.

How accurate those figures were, however, drew some skepticism after the company’s website inaccurately displayed nine-sailing delays on Tuesday, which turned out to be an error.

Opposition BC United Transportation Critic Trevor Halford said the provincial government needs to step in and start treating the ferry service like part of the highway system.

“We’re talking about websites being up for an entire day with misinformation and causing people incredible angst because they’re cancelling their trips, they’re going to other ferry terminals, which is adding hours to their travel, and then a mere 24 hours later we’re seeing the same thing happen,” Halford said.

“We’re not seeing any leadership from the minister, from the premier, from the (BC Ferries board) chair and the CEO. This is all being left to the front-line workers right now.”

Click to play video: 'More BC Ferries confusion as website error shows nine-sailing wait'

More BC Ferries confusion as website error shows nine-sailing wait

Global News attempted to contact BC Ferries Board Chair Joy MacPhail Thursday, but was disconnected when a reported identified themselves as calling from the outlet.

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Within the hour, the company’s communications team sent an email saying MacPhail was “not available” to speak.

In the meantime, it appears there could be more trouble for weekend travellers on one popular southern route.

The company says it’s expecting a spike in foot passenger and vehicle travel on all sailings to Salt Spring Island and is urging people to show up early, to carpool and to be ready for delays.

At the same time, the Coastal Celebration, which has been in out of service for a week with mechanical trouble, is expected to return to service on Friday.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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