Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For the Record, BC Ferries aren't so Bad

I was away for the Thanksgiving weekend and for my birthday.

Jodie and I decided ages ago to go to Victoria and just kind of get away and relax.
For the most part we were successful.  Sleeping in for four days in a row was awesome.  Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin Greg's place was excellent.

But so many friends on Facebook and elsewhere have asked about how the ferries were.

Well, we did get lucky going to Victoria, and I'm glad we did not only for the immediate hassle, but also because it meant it was something we didn't concern ourselves with all weekend, ruining our R&R.

Friday morning when Jodie went on line to check the bus-schedule I on a whim suggested that she also check the ferries.  She scoffed, but before too long the thought nagged at her and she checked anyhow.  Soon she was standing in the doorway of the bedroom incredulous that "I knew".

The ferry we'd been planning to catch was indeed cancelled due to the engine fire that anyone listening to the news in Southern BC this past week now knows about.

We simply delayed our departure by an hour and had no problem getting on the boat.  The boat was quite full, but otherwise we really didn't notice a thing amiss.

Our return trip on Monday was different.  We didn't realize until we got to the terminal how bad it was.  We had managed to catch the overflow bus - which was not at all full.  Not even close.  But when we got off the bus, the line up for walk-ons went out of the terminal and a third of the way up the car-park.  We got in line and watched as it more than doubled behind us.  We missed the next ferry by about 2 to 3 hundred people.  The next ferry was cancelled.  As we were buying tickets for the next ferry the fire alarm in the terminal went off and we had to evacuate the building for twenty minutes.

Unluckily for BC Ferries the media showed up to cover the length of the walk-on line up just as the fire-alarm went off.

When we were eventually let back in we had to sit out the next two hours in a cramped space on the floor of the waiting room.  We managed to get seats on the ferry, but plenty of other people were lined up along the walls on the floor.  Our bus into town was also packed to the limit.  It was unfortunate and undid a fair bit of our weekend of relaxation.

This morning I've been catching up on a bunch of podcasts that I would have normally listened to over the weekend, but didn't.  Amongst them are a number of newscasts, and time after time the coverage of the ferry issues were accompanied by interviews with disgruntled passengers declaring how ridiculous it was and how poorly BC Ferries was handling it and how badly prepared they were for it.

I feel a need to put in my two bits.   BULL.  SHIT.

For starters, the passengers around us in line, in the waiting room and on the boat were all in good if resigned spirits, as were the BC Ferries employees.  When the fire alarm broke out in the terminal (it wasn't actually a fire, just smoking hyraulic fluid) after doing what they needed to do (evacuate us and wait for the pros) they were laughing at the outrageous misfortune... what else was there to do? 
Un-prepared?  Well on a certain level - yeah of course they were un-prepared.  They hadn't exactly planned on losing the biggest ship in the fleet at the beginning of the biggest ferry traffic weekend of the year.  And because it was the biggest weekend of the year, they already had everything running at maximum capacity.  So how exactly do they pick up the slack, other than do exactly what they did - run the ferries late into the night to pick up the slack.
There were customers mad that their preferred boarding passes weren't being honoured.  Well, to my understanding the right to suspend them is actually written on them.  This is a measure that has never been utilized before, so suck it up.  Besides, there were so many people at the ferry that in order to run the logistics of letting someone through the line up would have been an extra level of chaos.  So get over it, we were all inconvenienced.  Most of us took it with a sense of amusement.

The angry travellers were a significant minority.  I was there.  The media likes the apparent controversy.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Geeks Win Nobel Prize... no really.

This was so cool that I had to do my second post in a single day on Skeptic North.

In fact, I almost had to arm wrestle fellow SN-blogger, Kimberly Hebert for the right to do so. Willard Boyle is from the Maritimes, so it's in her region, but the technology is key to modern film-making, so it's kinda in my domain too.

Luckily I spoke up first and called dibs. 'Cause I don't know how that arm wrestle would have worked out - my reach isn't that good.