ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — Marine Atlantic has suspended its maligned commercial vehicle reservation system.
As of Nov. 14, reservations will no longer be required for commercial vehicles, Marine Atlantic announced. It said capacity issues and ferry reliability are to blame.
“The mechanical breakdown of the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood in October once again highlighted the issues associated with aging vessels and insufficient fleet capacity,” said Marine Atlantic president and CEO, Wayne Follett. “Commercial reservations have significant benefits for our commercial customers and their clients; however, the approaching severe winter weather and the need to make the transition from the current vessels to the new fleet are important considerations. Therefore we have decided to suspend the commercial reservations system until the new fleet capacity comes on stream.”
The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) also withdrew its support from the reservation system at its recent annual meetings, recommending the ferry operator suspend the system until new capacity is in place.
“With the recommendation of the APTA and other industry players, Marine Atlantic will move to a first come, first served approach until the new fleet capacity is available,” said Follett. “With the peak season behind us, we can temporarily suspend commercial reservations while we implement additional capacity and improve the commercial reservation processes. This is in keeping with the principles of working closely with our stakeholder groups in the best interests of the majority of our clients.”
Next spring, Marine Atlantic will have additional capacity, which may allow it to reintroduce the reservation system. Until then, the Crown Corp. says it learned some valuable lessons about how a reservation system can work for the industry.
“The reservations system was instrumental in ensuring that a record amount of commercial traffic was carried over the summer,” said Follett. “The system provides a number of operating benefits to Marine Atlantic, and significant benefits to the commercial trucking industry and their customers in terms of timely delivery and predictability. We know there are commercial carriers who will be unhappy with this decision, as well as their customers as there have been many silent supporters of commercial reservations.”
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