16 October 2009

The Marine Atlantic Disconnect

Consider if you will, the number of times a provincial government official – usually the tourism minister du jour – has bitched about the ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

The fares.

The schedule.

The ships.

Doesn’t matter:  Marine Atlantic supposedly sucks.

Now for the poor folks running Marine Atlantic, they just can’t win.  One minister refers to the ferries as constitutional cattle-cars.  People clog the open line shows to chime in their agreement.

So the company invests in a new boat with plenty of modern, trendy conveniences.

The same people bitch that it is too grand when all they need is the marine equivalent of a cattle-car.

Anyways, the latest round of bleating is about a fare increase to offset rising fuel costs.

Clyde Jackman issued a news release on October 6 predicting possible dire consequences resulting from the latest fare changes.

Diane Whelan did the bitching in June 2008.

In 2007, there was a bevy:


Still following?

But, just a few weeks ago, Clyde was out there trumpeting the fact that “[n]on-resident traffic on Marine Atlantic is up 4.4 per cent over 2008, while resident traffic exiting the province is down almost one per cent…”.

So despite all the supposed problems, there are actually more people using the service this year compared last year.

That wasn’t good enough: by October 16 Jackman had decided that traffic on the ferries was actually up 5.2% from last year  And, said Jackman, “…we cannot continue to grow this industry without a reliable, affordable Gulf ferry service.”

But hang on a moment.

There is a problem here with the minister’s logic:

If the current ferry service is not reliable and is not affordable – according to the bitching to date – how can it be that the ferry traffic is growing?

Tut. Tut.

It’s really terrible to see this sort of pessimism coming from a provincial cabinet minister.