Getting the goods

Brodie Thomas
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Retailers’ group wants ferries to bring back commercial reservations

Marine Atlantic previously attempted to enact a commercial reservation system, but gave up on it in late 2010 after numerous complaints from truck drivers.

RCC Atlantic director Jim Cormier said his clients would like the ability to book commercial space on the ferry.

“There weren’t many, if any, who liked the old commercial reservation system,” said Cormier. “Having said that, we felt it was a bit short-sighted to get rid of the entire system instead of fixing the system.”

The RCC represents 45,000 stores across the country, ranging in size from small independent retailers to international companies.

Cormier said his clients have been looking at ways to get goods to Newfoundland stores. He said one idea they can all get behind is an improved form of commercial reservation.

Marine Atlantic has been receptive to the request. Spokesman Darrell Mercer said the corporation has hired a third-party consultant to facilitate stakeholder sessions on the possibility.

Mercer said just about everyone recognizes the past system wasn’t ideal, but the corporation is open to new ideas, and that is why it is holding stakeholder sessions.

Cormier said the RCC is putting forward a lot of possibilities with the understanding that the final system won’t incorporate all their ideas.

He said the ideal system would be web-based, would have limits on how many reservations a single company could make and would have penalties for companies that break those limits.

Cormier also would like to see real-time alerts, such as the ones available for the Confederation Bridge to P.E.I., and a way for Marine Atlantic to invoice companies for payment. Under the old system, companies had to pay up front.

“We think in this day and age they could offer the current payment terms of 30 days from the date of sailing,” he said.

Cormier said the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Assoc. is still opposed to a commercial reservation system. He said while truckers are the ones coming in contact with the ferries, it is the retail stores that hire trucks for delivery, and stores and consumers ultimately pay the price for delayed shipments.

“For the longest time, we sat on the sidelines on this. It’s incumbent on us that our concerns are put out there,” he said.

The Gulf News

Organizations: RCC, Marine Atlantic, Gulf News

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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