Letters to the Editor

Ferry riders paying for what they don't see

Dear editor,

Re: Solutions obvious for ferries (Record, Feb. 27).

While I commend  Ed Zirkwitz for his concern regarding BC Ferries, an important  transportation infrastructure, and his suggestions for a more efficient model, I need  to clarify some commonly held misconceptions about BC Ferries' employees.

Having been employed as a cook on the Little River run, I initially felt like I'd lucked into the perfect well-paid job — better money for the same job.

After a career of long hours and low pay in Vancouver restaurants, I had finally managed to make all my fine dining and culinary school experience pay off.

Little did I know I had to save lives as well! That gift shop cashier who appears to be doing not much for a lot of money has actually been trained to save the lives of all the passengers should anything unfortunate happen.

The amount of emergency training I received was truly staggering (and sometimes scary). Previously I had no idea that the car deck guy or the cafeteria worker did anything beyond what I saw. Transport Canada sets the rules.

I'm sure we have all had delays and heard the announcement that there is a mechanical issue that is being dealt with. Sometimes that means there is not enough staff for the crossing (there needs to be the correct ratio of staff to passengers on any boarding, according to Transport Canada) and we are waiting for an on-call employee (never a fun job) who is now on their way.

Do you really want a ferry worker making minimum wage with that kind of responsibility?

As Ed says, properly managing employee costs (including management) would result in reduced future fare increases.

Please don't forget that those employees who appear to not be doing much on the job will be the ones getting you in the lifeboats when the ship is going down. They are paid for what you don't see.

Kevin Ibbetson,



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