N.L. First Party leader wants Marine Atlantic privatized

Cliff Wells
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Wayne Bennett believes Marine Atlantic is unable to deal the problems he sees in the service and the only way to fix it may be to take it to the private sector.

In recent weeks the service has been off schedule a number of times and it is facing a lot of criticism from those in the trucking industry who say the new reservation system is hurting business. The system has been protested and there is talk of another protest in the works.

Bennett, the leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party, says a recent trip across the Gulf only served to further convince him the ferry service needs to be operated by a private company.

Of chief concern for him is the Crown Corporation’s apparent lack of communication with ferry travellers or its own staff, especially when things go wrong.

“Somebody in the organization knows there’s something wrong, but it’s not being communicated to the people on the front lines,” Bennett said.

He said the information is not being made available to passengers, either. Bennett believes there’s got to be a way to inform passengers of what’s happening during delays, or when the schedule is running smoothly and there are more ways to communicate the message than using a loudspeaker.

“We’re all going around with cellphones, BlackBerrys or iPods,” he said. “You can send us a message, you can send us a tweet. There’s all kinds of ways.”

He said the people supervising the toll gates and parking lots are hearing the complaints, but management isn’t visible to the travelling public.

“I say privatize it because it’s a government organization and it smacks of being government-run,” he said. “I think a lot of the problems they’re having sometimes deal with unions. ... Maybe a private operator will come in, get rid of the unions and get things back on an even keel. I think it’s a drastic step, but sometimes drastic measures are what’s needed.”

If that doesn’t work, he thinks both levels of government should look at some sort of fixed link. Then, he says, there won’t be the worry of being limited by the ferry system.

The Western Star

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Newfoundland and Labrador First Party, Crown

Geographic location: Western Star

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Recent comments

  • Kasco
    August 09, 2010 - 09:25

    The position that Marine Atlantic is in is one that the Government of Canada has put it in. The failure of the Canadian Government to provide Marine Atlantic with the tools necessary to meet the needs of the people of NL is the problem. Recent announcements of renewal for ship and shore assets is a start, but just a start. Planning is the key. Reacting to a problem is not a solution. Anticipating a problem and providing a solution before it develops is what has been lacking.

  • Kasco
    August 09, 2010 - 09:24

    The position that Marine Atlantic is in is one that the Government of Canada has put it in. The failure of the Canadian Government to provide Marine Atlantic with the tools necessary to meet the needs of the people of NL is the problem. Recent announcements of renewal for ship and shore assets is a start, but just a start. Planning is the key. Reacting to a problem is not a solution. Anticipating a problem and providing a solution before it develops is what has been lacking.

  • Rob
    August 08, 2010 - 09:33

    '' Please be polite and confine your comments to the subject of the posted story.'' ''We ask that users remain courteous. You may not post insulting, discriminatory or inappropriate content, which may be removed at our discretion'' Yep sure is nice to see the crack moderating team at the Telegram still hard at work ignoring their own guidelines.

  • David
    August 07, 2010 - 21:37

    Marine Atlantic has problems in funding, scheduling, vessel design, maintenance planning, etc; all areas over which the workers have no control. Wayne Bennett's solution is to attack the workers. Who is this buffoon? Who is this NL First Party?

  • Todd
    August 07, 2010 - 19:05

    Good on ya Wayne Bennett. What an excellent way to get some votes!! Scrapping the Union is sure to vault your support at the polls........Idiot!

  • PFB
    August 07, 2010 - 14:20

    Having been tourists to NL for the past eight years, I have to be in agreement with Audacity Central's comments. We have taken the ferry on three occasions and each time experienced delays lasting from 3 hours to 15 hours. Since we stay for extended periods we like to take our car since rentals are expensive or unavailable. These delays are not only frustrating but result in added expense and having to remake our plans. Noone ever gives an explanation for the delay or lets you know up front what the trouble is. We love your province but we have decided to never drive there again. If and when we return it will be for a shorter time and we will fly and rent a car. Hope you can get things straightened out.

  • Jason W
    August 06, 2010 - 09:43

    Lol. Someone needs to tell this moron that not all cells work everywhere in NFLD. Algo, where would money to buy these ferries come from? Also the link with the mainland is constitutionally guaranteed. Imnot familiar with any sections of the TCH being privatized. Who's is this uneducated fringe numbskull claiming to be some sort of a leader?

  • Mark
    August 05, 2010 - 21:42

    Wayne - the feds don't give a nickel to the BC ferries, so what the heck is your point?

  • Audacity Central
    August 05, 2010 - 21:35

    All the jaded nonchalant Marine Atlantic employees should be sent on vacation by bus up to Truro, Nova Scotia and put on Via Rail trains all the way to B.C. to see how a transportation organisation should be run. Our passenger rail system is the envy of people from the U.S., England, Australia and New Zealand. I know this first hand. Via Rail employees bend over backwards for you. They are genuinely sweet and courteous, or they don't last. If a passenger has a question, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or innane, they all have radios with which to communicate up and down the train instantaneously, instead of the Marine Atlantic attitude of: "forget you, I'm a full time employee with a crown corp. I don't care about robbing you of a day of your life, or forcing you to have to get a hotel room that you can scarce afford, if there are even any available. I don't mind lying to you through my teeth or giving you the runaround for hours at a time." Now, after having sent said Marine Atlantic employees to B.C. and then back, have them try what many people have to do, 1st accomplish the feat of making the connection with a bus from Truro to North Sydney, and arrive at the Marine Atlantic terminal after a flawless and relaxing journey all the way across this massive country and realise, hey, this part of the country doesn't have the same level of transportation infrastructure. And I'm not treated with the basic respect a human being deserves. This is the first impression many tourists have of the experience of coming to Newfoundland and Labrador. How lovely. Good luck getting them back. Good luck getting any positive recommendations to their hundreds of friends, family or even just people they may casually converse with, well, basically for the rest of their lives. They will and do warn, just don't go to Newfoundland and Labrador, period. Thanks, Canada. Also, I cannot confirm with absolute certainty, but I was told by one of the disgruntled truck drivers that a walk on passenger with no reservation and no credit card has no possibility of getting on any ferry that is sailing, even if it is no where near full. This is unprecedented anywhere on the planet, I can assure you having travelled all over North America and the British lsles as well as having friends and relatives who have travelled in and around Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. The latter of which is comprised mainly of two large islands. Tasmania is also an island, of course. Come to think of it, the tiny Faroe Islands have better ferry service than us. Look them up, that place is so tiny, you can barely see it on the map. It's up between the British Isles and Iceland. Also, we should have a separate train run coming up from Halifax right through Truro and then right to the Marine Atlantic terminal in North Sydney.... essentially the rail lines are there, with the exception of the precise extension to the terminal. I've talked to people who travelled by train right from Cape Breton after leaving the ferry only 50 years ago. (that's the time frame they described to me.) In Wales, you can go right to the city of Swansea by train and hop a ferry to Shannon, Ireland, (a suburb of Dublin). Surely this so called nation of Canada is capable of subsidizing a similar level of comfort and class. Anyway, whatever, I'm getting too p.o.'d to continue any more. Peace

  • Nasty Nate
    August 05, 2010 - 17:46

    Another joke to tell around the camp fire. Who has the cash to buy the service and operate it at a profit, Danny? Hahahahaha. If you do not like the service, do not use it. Simple. You do have other options to escape from the rock after all. Stop thinking you only have a single option unless you are all on the No-Fly list.

  • Audrey
    August 05, 2010 - 09:45

    Go Danny, expropriate them.

  • Penney
    August 05, 2010 - 09:02

    It's beyond me why a bunch of wingnuts like the NL First Party merit any attention at all. "Privatize and scrap the unions" says Bennett. It's apparent that his main source of information/opinion is Fox News or some other low-brow non-journalism.

  • Rod Lyver
    August 05, 2010 - 08:44

    Wayne, when you were defeated in the last federal election you commented that you would be on Gerry Byrne and the issues like stink on a blanket. I try to keep abreast of current issues and to be honest this is only the second time that I have seen any comments from you since that time. If privatising was a viable option it would have been pursued long ago. You inability to grasp the real issues amazes me. In just a few simple sentences you have alienated union workers not to mention done nothing for their moral. This along with many other fact less comments has continued to show the people of the riding they made the right decision. God help us if the N.L. First Party every gets a majority, it will be time to buy a lotto ticket.

  • Wayne
    August 05, 2010 - 08:40

    Marine Atlantic is a mess, but be VERY aware that it is NOT profitable to run a ferry service between here and the mainland.(just ask our provincial gov't about running the local ferries) If the service were run by a private company they would need to make a reasonable return on their investment. Service might be better but I expect that costs would be much higher as well. There is no sense in giving a private company a subsidy to run the service because then they have no more incentive to be efficient than Marine Atlantic does. The real problem here is that NL has ZERO federal clout and never will have any. Go and take a ferry in BC ( they have a lot more federal seats) The vessels are modern , clean and the service is good.The feds just don't care about our ferry service....get used to it.

  • Mark
    August 05, 2010 - 08:22

    Privatization assumes that someone out there is foolish enough to want to buy it. Who no earth would want to purchase an enterprise that loses tens of millions dollars every year?