ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — Within a week, Marine Atlantic will begin accepting reservations for trucks sailing on any of its vessels.
Marine Atlantic says the new system will provide more predictable travel and delivery times as well as reduced waiting time for trucking companies. It will begin accepting reservations by phone Feb. 22.
“The Marine Atlantic ferry system represents a vital element in the transportation supply chain for businesses shipping to and from the island portion of Newfoundland,” said Marine Atlantic president and CEO, Wayne Follett. “Commercial reservations will provide a significant improvement in the supply chain link allowing commercial trucking companies to provide confirmed delivery for their clients’ products. All of our customers will now arrive at a port for check-in with a reserved sailing date and time. This new approach will replace the previous system whereby drivers rushed to the ports to be placed in a line-up for transportation that was based upon first come-first served.”
The reservation system should improve safety by eliminating lone line-ups of trucks on roads leading up to the ferries.
“Commercial reservations will help reduce the traffic congestion caused by long line-ups of trucks during delays and will improve load planning and utilization of our vessels,” said Follett. “Advance reservations will enable trucking companies to reduce a driver’s downtime and maximize the efficient use of their assets.”
The check-in process will also be expedited, Marine Atlantic officials promise, since trucking companies will submit information on the types of goods being transported during the booking phase, decreasing the amount of time required to complete the final cargo manifest before setting sail.
“We realize the introduction of a formal booking process is a significant change for the trucking industry and for the employees at Marine Atlantic,” said Follett “We have worked together with representatives of the industry and key stakeholder groups to develop a commercial reservations system that will benefit all parties. It is because of the magnitude of change for all involved that we are implementing this system at a time of the year when traffic demand is near its lowest, giving everyone an opportunity to become familiar with the system before the busier summer season.”
On Feb. 22, Marine Atlantic will begin accepting reservations by phone. Trucking companies can call 800-341-7981 to reserve a spot for sailings beginning March 15. In April, online reservations will be accepted.
While there are many benefits of a reservation system for commercial trucks, Follett stopped short of promising completely smooth sailing. He acknowledged some growing pains should be expected as the new system is implemented and vowed to work with industry to address any problems that arise. He also admitted the reservation system won’t cure all the ferry company’s service woes.
“Given the growing traffic demand and our current fleet configuration, even with the most efficient use of our fleet we will continue to experience capacity challenges, especially during the peak summer season. As well there will still be unavoidable delays due to severe weather and mechanical issues” Follett said.
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