Cuts to Bell Island ferry schedule

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Seven runs axed to ensure proper rest for crews

The MV Flanders. -Telegram File Photo

Seven round-trip runs are being removed from the Bell Island weekly ferry schedule.

The changes, announced Friday evening, are to ensure crews get enough rest between runs, said Transportation and Works Minister Tom Hedderson.

“It’s all about safety and making sure that our crew is not fatigued and working up to their full potential, and as well trying to make sure that we’re looking after the needs of the travelling public,” said Hedderson.

As the Telegram reported Friday (, two ferry captains have been suspended following separate incidents in which the MV Nonia struck rocks and a wharf, but Hedderson said the changes weren’t made as a result of the incidents.

“It goes back to last Friday when there was some concern expressed with regard to whether or not the crew of the Beaumont had their prescribed hours of rest,” he said.

Prior to the changes, the ferries made 135 round-trips per week. The interim schedule, available at, has seven fewer runs, effective Monday.

Hedderson said the department will listen to users’s response to the schedule changes.

“If it runs a week or so and it looks like it’s the best that we can do, it will turn from an interim to permanent,” he said.

But Gary Gosine, the mayor of Wabana and a member of the ferry users committee, slammed the changes to the schedule, which he said was fine the way it was.

“I think they overreacted,” he said, adding that the committee has been consulting all week with the government on changes to the schedule, which he said was originally going to cut 17 round-trips per week. “So that just shows me how incompetent their staff who came up with this is. They had to rely on our committee to try to come up with something better.”

Gosine said Transport Canada had already ruled that ferry crews were getting enough rest between runs, and added that the system’s biggest problem is poor communication. “You gotta call in … to see if the boat is running to get you to work, and now you gotta call in from work to see if you’re getting home.”

Geographic location: Bell Island

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Recent comments

  • Ken
    January 31, 2011 - 18:29

    What a sad situation!! The ferry system has been the lifeline to this side for years! I have never heard of so many problems and B/S before in this so called modern age. Some one previously mentioned that maybe John Noseworthy should look into this situation!! Rest periods?? Bigger and better men manned those ferries years ago and never bitched about rests, whty now?? Our politics are becoming too Americanized ,where we spend more time, and tax[ayers money pointing fingers!! An earlier person commented on the privatization of these services...Great idea! Then see peoplescrambling for the jobs. Here's an idea ,maybe someone could miraculously discover gold or uranium on the Island somewhere.Then see how long it would be to eradicate all these problems!! They'd be tripping over their tongues improving the system to the max. Bottom line ...The powers that be don't really give a s*** about the rock, but it makes great political election fodder!

  • Maggie
    January 31, 2011 - 10:26

    The Minister's announcement is quite misleading. Yes it has cut only 7 ROUND trips per week, however, on Saturday and Sunday mornings and evenings there will be one boat in operation, therefore, cutting a few trips here and there. Mayor Gosine needs to get a clue...the government backed down off the number of cuts not because he was working with them, it was the working citizens of the island created a hue and cry about the negative impact it has for us. It seems to me the Minister is offering the committee a chance to compromise.

  • Movin out
    January 29, 2011 - 23:50

    I'd like to see how much the ferry service is costing the province! I feel that Bell Island will (and should be) resettled in the next 10 years. There is an ever aging population with no resources to even keep it prosperous. The mine is closed. Stop wasting tax payers dollars and move to the 'mainland'. The Scope newspaper had the best suggestion. Turn the whole island into an amusement park for tourism, then the place will actually make some money!

  • Dave
    January 29, 2011 - 23:06

    Voting for another PC sheep called Brazil didn't work out so well did it, Bell Island?

  • tmoney
    January 29, 2011 - 22:43

    This Bell Island ferry system is insane. I've been travelling the ferry for 7 years. I am down to the boat at 4:10am and sometimes I don't get home until 8:00pm. Why should we suffer and lose hours of work because the boat workers need all this rest? Thank god some of our bosses know the situation of these boats. Some companies do not hire Bell Islanders because of the unreliability of the boat. Why should they bring in these new rules now, at the time when the the amount of ferry traffic is increasing to and from the Island, and our province is in such a good financial position? Jane Walsh, there is down-time for every service. If you had the knowledge, you would realize that approximately 80% of all ferry crossings are at full capacity. As an alternative, try crawling out of bed early to watch the early boats. Donnie from Dildo, keep your biased and idiotic opinion to yourself. If you want to learn something, come use this service, or we could close the road to Dildo. Let's see how you like that.

  • Former Bell Island
    January 29, 2011 - 21:46

    Gosh! The Place I used to be proud of to call home...what a sad sad situation. Pack up and leave sure all the Bell Islanders will get right on that, is the government going to provide cheaper housing on the other side and reduce land taxes? I know living over there for many years the cost of living is cheaper yes but the lack oif employment is the reason why. Im sure all current Bell Islanders got a big fat savings account to pay for this give me a break! As for the rest periods, well yes safety is first but come on have a look at the schedule, im sure there is a way they can alter it. Join the rest of the world split shifts make work for everyone. DO NOT STOP FELLOW BELL ISLANDERS UNTIL YOU GET WHATS RIGHTFULLY OWED TO YOU a dependable ferry service that allows you to live a full fledged life

  • Jenn
    January 29, 2011 - 21:02

    I believe there is a real concern with the Bell Island Ferry system if they plan on reducing the crossings. I know the crew have long days and it can be very tiring. I also know that is also very hard on the commuters and residents using our ferry system every day. A lot of early morning commuters leave their homes an hour and a half early to make the first boats in the morning because of the volume of traffic. If they don't leave early they take the risk of not getting to work on time. Non commuter residents have to be in the line to leave the island at least 45 Min's to an hour if they have to make a certain trip. You never know when there will be a long line up. Then they can spend another hour or two to get home. God forbid you commute during the summer or before Christmas. You might as well bring a pillow and blanket. So it's not only the ferry crew who have long days. It's the commuters and residents as well. If the crew are too tired why not split the shifts. There are at least two crews per ferry. They could work every week in stead if every other week and split the shifts. They will be working less per day and then when the busy season arrives and ambulance trips happen the crew will be better rested for it. Reducing the crossings will eventually cause more problems for all concerned.

  • sam
    January 29, 2011 - 20:51

    I have listened to this contraversy for years!! I have gone across to the island a few times and thought...geez this is not too bad, you actually meet a second ferry half way across, not a bad service!! When you depend on ferries you are going to have some delays, cant control the weather or breakdowns!! Maybe we expect too much sometimes!! My experience is that the problems occur early in the morning and around 4-5pm, dont see any problem cutting a run in the middle of the day! And a little advice...don't bite the hand that feeds you. Those ferry emplyees work hard, just like the people they commute!!

  • madonnamiller
    January 29, 2011 - 18:00

    Roxy-january29 2011 question,how can the 5;55 boat be late with one crew and be on time with the other crew.I guess one crew doesn't get enough rest.why don't the government have three 8 hours shifts and no week off.Lots of jobs and save money.

  • William Daniels
    January 29, 2011 - 15:05

    Mr. Gosine and the rest of Bell Island got what they voted for. Don't go away mad.........

  • My Opinion
    January 29, 2011 - 13:50

    Time to meke the Ferry service privatized, see how much rest they require then when there is competition for the jobs. As for the comments to have everyone leaving Bell Island?? Cmon people just because the government cannot organize something so simple, why should people have to leave their home towns?? This is a province of cities and towns, not just St. John's!! I think it should be 24 hours a day, with proper time alotted for repairs during slow periods. No more week on week off, makes them lazy. My thought

      January 29, 2011 - 21:51

      Where is our MHA? If it wasn't for our MHA, Bell Island would be facing removal of more than 7 trips. Know the facts before you state your case. People who have never travelled this ferry system on a daily basis would never be able to understand how unreliable this service is. Donny, I have read comment after comment of yours regarding Bell Island, and, you are quite simply, a moron. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • joann j
    January 29, 2011 - 13:34

    there is more than 30 - 40 residents living on Bell Island.To reduce to 1 ferry that just doesn't make no since...It is not over kill, there needs to be 2 ferries at all times cause there is just too much traffic that travels,once again if u were living there you would know and have a different opinion and u comment would mean a lot more,and where they r going,thats easy Dr.App,banking etc....

  • Gerry
    January 29, 2011 - 11:49

    Rest Time, What a Crok off Bull,... This Beaumount is all ways broke down, cant run due to high tides, or its to windy, how much rest time do they want, there always resting when its not running & getting payed for it, Here one for John Noseworthy to investigate, Tax dollars going for rest time, LOL

    • bell island member
      February 16, 2011 - 17:23

      excuse me there gerry but you knwo shit all about bell sialnd ferry system id like to see u in the workers place why does eveyrone flip out at teh workers when they are not the ones calling the shots or the trips or making the schedule so go to the governement about ti not the workers

  • Penny
    January 29, 2011 - 11:12

    If some of you don't know, both ferries do not run the full daily schedule together. The Flanders does the first trips in the morning starting at 5:55 then the last run for that ferry is 6:50pm. The Beaumont kicks in at 7:20am and then goes until 11:10pm or 12:10 on Friday and Saturday. That to me is a pretty good nights rest. Then on top of that is the rest periods during the day. As for the boat incidents, lets just say it wasn't because they didn't have enough rest. Oh and Donny from Dildo...there are over 350 people that commute from Bell Island every day and as stated in another articel,The Bell Island ferry service moves an estimated 500,000 passengers and 250,000 vehicles to and from the island every year.

  • Travis
    January 29, 2011 - 10:57

    One week on and one off, 12 hour shifts and that's working too hard? Try being a steward on the Apollo where you work over 90 hours a week in the summer, 7 days a week for 5 weeks straight. And you only get paid for 60 hours and don't get paid for the 1 week you have off after every 5.

  • Jane Walsh
    January 29, 2011 - 09:05

    as a tax payer would love to see the stats on the vehicles carried by these boats,they boast about all the cars they move,I think its the same few cars being lugged over day in day out.Why not its very cheap for them to do so around $ 2.00.I would like the auditor General to publicly show the real cost to me the tax payer.I live near the ferry terminal and often see these big boats loading and unloading 2 or 3 cars...not realistic.Why not provide a bus to take workers around town then there would be no need to have all these cars back and forth back and forth on the tax payers dime.Good job Mister Hedderson stop wasting my tax dollars on a delivery system for a very few people.Time for user pay over there

    • Penny
      January 29, 2011 - 19:11

      The stats are public information on the government website. It also makes no sense about the bus service, it makes no difference if a bus took commuters around the ferry still needs to run to bring them across, car or no car. And yes, it is mostly the same people "lugged" over day in and day out, they are called commuters and they are going to work. If you looked, you would see that quite a number of people do walk on and off the ferry and carpool with others or use the cove taxi. The Bell Island ferry users contribute quite a bit to the Cove's economy being for the gas station or the corner stores or the restaurants.

  • Ray
    January 29, 2011 - 08:55

    As much as the people hate to say it,this time the Minister is right. Safety comes first and foremost and it should be that way. If there are other ways to combat this problem then the powers to be should sit down collectively and come up with something that's fair to the workers and commuters.

  • dave perry
    January 29, 2011 - 08:27

    I am amazed,what people here are missing...this is about safety ,there safety...Transport Canada has regulations governing hours of rest for all types of transport workers.Why in gods name would people want tired crews running these ships,Its my understanding they are working over 18 hours a day under the old the math.Obviously its a challanging feat to dock these aging vessels as demonstrated by the two suspended Captains.How many hours were they on the wheel before they struck?I think cooler heads should prevail,instead of wanting more more more,the local committee should see if they could set up car pooling so the number of trips is effective,never do you hear any positive suggestions in the media from them.Just bash government bash crews bash captainsIt is an expensive service to operate and its more costly to get a bus in town than to take your car on the ferry ride?If it was more realistically priced they might be more inclined to car pool.

    • DAve W
      January 29, 2011 - 12:00

      Jsut a note here to Dave Perry where he says 18 hours do the math. The Beaumont only does 2 runs in the morning then comes off until lunch time. There is 2 ferries and both ferries have crews that work 12 hours a day. When the Beaumont hit it was only on its 3rd or 4th run of the day. If it did its 2 runs in the morning it then had a 2-4 hour break then when it went again it crashed into the rocks. Fatigue? The guys work 12 hours a day for 7 days then take 7 days off. Give me a break and don't comment on safety concerns saying 18 hours when you do not even know the crews schedules. That's the problem here, people are commenting on things they have no idea about. Ask the people on Bell Island who are not working on the boat or related to someone who works on the boat, only then will you find out what a joke it is. And to all who say same cars travelling back and forth or shut it down cause of the cost. Has anyone done any homework on the Sydney crossing? It's the exact same thing guys, you can't call down one and not the other.

    • Penny
      January 29, 2011 - 19:24

      You are the one that has to do the math, check out the schedule and you will see how much time these guys work a day and it is nowhere near 18 hours. The captains were not suspended because of being tired, and the incident did not occur because of being tired. There are quite a number of people that do carpool everyday and use the local taxi service. If anything the Union is what should be bashed, keeping the lazy man lazy. I think commenters need to do a lot more research insead of commenting about something they know nothing about.

  • Christine Taplin
    January 29, 2011 - 07:46

    I have been a commuter for the last 10 years or so and i have never seen so much trouble with the ferry system. I was on the Beaumont Hamel on Thurs Jan 27 and after a so called rest period we arrived into the bell island side and without notice the ferry was not turning as she would but instead i watched her go side on into the corner of the wharf, i was not shaken but i was disturbed that this and many other things have been occurring , then cause of this little opps as they call it the ferry was tied up and fixed again and so did not run until last night. I am one of the lucky ones that have a understanding employer and i know that instead of complaining about it there has to be something done, talking about it does not resolve the issue at hand and irregardless to moving that is not a option and we should not have to be forced to move. As a bell islander i should be treated like if i lived in st. johns, these boats are our roads and should be not treated like we are worth anything, government needs to pick up the slack and do their jobs and consider that bell island is a community that stands up for one another and will defend it against anything, We need new blood here and to make things a better place that people want to come to and never want to leave, step one is to get the ferries under control and get new captains then second is to get a new town council that has our best interest. Just remember talk is cheap but actions can go a long way.

  • Donny Dooley Dildo NL
    January 29, 2011 - 07:11

    Reducing the trips is a step in the right direction but I would like to see the service reduced to one ferry, only running every second day. Two is overkill for a little community of 30 or 40 residents. Where are they going anyway?

    • Joe
      January 29, 2011 - 14:25

      You know it drives me nuts when I hear people make comments about Bell Island. DONNY in Dildo it obivous that you don't know anything about the island to make a comment like that. MARY, you just don't make sence. How about if you are limitited to when you can leave and get back to your home? People of Bell Island are very proud of their island and keep fighting for what they beleive in. Others if you don;t have anything good to say then maybe you should keep quiet.

  • Dave W
    January 29, 2011 - 04:57

    So can we get this straight. Transport Canada says everything is perfect the way it is with the runs and time off. The ferry workers say they cannot work 12 hour days for one week and take the next off cause it is too hard? The government of Newfoundland (not transport Canada that every other province falls under) says yes 42 hours per week is too many hours that a person can work. I guess the old term Newfoundlanders are too lazy to work is alive, well and backed by the governement.

  • annette
    January 29, 2011 - 02:09

    The guys on both of our ferries get enough rest and they need to thend to the workers and people who travell on those ferries every day due to work and other means. They are only tending to their needs, they don't do anything anyway only direct traffic and then they go lie down... Please respect our wishes and concerns.....

  • Joe
    January 28, 2011 - 21:02

    the worse the Bell Island Ferries are getting. I was wondering do the Gulf Ferry drop its anchor in the middle of the gluf to get there rest period.. Oh My oh my

  • Penny
    January 28, 2011 - 20:46

    For God sake, the workers get 20 minutes of rest every ferry crossing and then if you watch, most of them are sitting aroud the dock having a smoke while 2 are guiding traffic during loading. These are the best paid, underworked people on the go...come on, how hard is it to stand up and wave traffic on a boat. Then they get to sit down and do practically nothing while the ferry is crossing. They knew what they were getting into when they went in for this job, they seen the good money that came with the job and that was all they cared about. They get paid good money for the inconvenience of the job, same as people who work offshore. As for the people that say relocate, that is another crock. Of all the ferries in the province, the Bell Island ferry is one of the ones that costs the province the least. If those people were asked to relocate because they are an inconvenience to others or are costing the governemnt too much money, they would tell them to go to hell. For example, what if the people on Portugal Cove were told they have to relocate because it is costing too much money for snow clearing and road upkeep...would not go over well.

  • Mary
    January 28, 2011 - 18:51

    Time to close down Bell Island all together....... It just makes no sense!

    • c foley
      January 29, 2011 - 13:09

      Mary ,u make no sense, maybe you should get up & move . finally coming together ,lots of ppl ,visitors come home every year & retire there ,I think the GOV. knows this & dont like it so they are makin it hard for the ppl that travel there & live there,it's hard for them to see the Island prosper.... GOV. is the ones thats keeping B.I. back it shows by their actions...

    • bell islander
      February 16, 2011 - 17:30

      Time ot close your mouth until you have an idea of what yourtalkign about bell island is a wonderfuk place im proud ot be bron here live here andthis si where im dieing!

  • RH
    January 28, 2011 - 18:23

    Wow....THATS what Bell Island needs. The men and women on the ferries do a great job...but seriously...the first run goes at 5:55 am, and the last at 11:10pm. How does this not leave them enough "rest time"???? Compared to the hours pulled by doctors, nurses, police officers, etc., these guys have it pretty good!

  • Eagle Eye
    January 28, 2011 - 17:58

    Well Mr. Hedderson congratulations on making the situation even worse for working commuters. You are only looking at the situation of cutting out the extra runs for overtime purposes and nothing else. Bell Island is going back in time not going with the demand of traffic and meeting the needs of the people of Bell Island. All the talk about the spin of the oil and the prosperity it is bringing to our province .... I have yet to see any of this happen yet. Well workers you got your REST periods now so suck it up ....

  • Vote for the best candidate
    January 28, 2011 - 17:53

    Hey Bell Islanders, where's your new MHA now? Look at all he's done for you so far lol. Give him another 4 years, you'll be swimming across the tickle. What a bunch of incompetent boobs. Hedderson couldn't manage an outhouse, let alone the transportation and works portfolio.