Complaining about ferries goes hand-in-hand with being an islander. We moan about schedules, overloads, the food and the cost.
BC Ferries may normally prefer we keep our thoughts to ourselves, but as the corporation makes plans for its newest group of major-route ships they are actively soliciting public opinions.
A survey accessible at bcferries/about/nextgen asks respondents to give their two cents worth about what they would like to see in five new vessels BC Ferries plans to have built in the next few years. Survey topics range from services for disabled people and cyclists to whether a mobile phone app to pre-order and pre-pay for food would be used. Specific suggestions for healthier menu items are also requested.
One significant possible change is allowing pets in some parts of the upper deck passenger areas, so opinions are solicited about that idea as well.
And if you’d like to see yoga classes or hair-cutting services offered onboard, now is your chance to express that.
Ferry travellers often complain about the poor or nonexistent WiFi service on BC Ferries vessels. Since the corporation was last fall finally able to incorporate at least some use of debit cards on its fleet, we know it is possible for the company to enter the 21st century when it comes to technological functions. Better WiFi is a must for not only the next generation of vessels but their current ones as well.
Something else the corporation needs to do on the technological front is offer the ability for website users to more easily plan trips that may involve transfers or more than one way to get to a destination. Trying to plan a trip between Salt Spring and Pender Island that may not involve Long Harbour, for example, is presently a brain-bending exercise of cross-referencing various schedules. A website function that lays out options is long overdue. But we digress, as ferry travellers often do.
The next-generation ferries survey will be available online until April 12. It’s better to speak up now about what you want to see on future BC Ferries vessels than have to complain later.