Meeting slated to discuss Marine Atlantic problems

CORNER BROOK, Nfld. — A local MP will be holding a public forum for stakeholders to air their concerns about Marine Atlantic.

Gerry Byrne, Liberal member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, will hosting an open forum next Wednesday May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pepsi Centre.

At the heart of the issue is Marine Atlantic’s commercial reservation system. It was supposed to improve service, but so far is rife with problems.

Some large carries are booking block reservations and then cancel some spots at the last minute. In many cases, those appointments could have gone to other truckers waiting for spots and the vessel leaves at less than capacity.

Byrne told local media that he has given the new system time to iron out the kinks, but it has led to nothing short of chaos.

If not fixed, the reservation system poses serious dangers to the commercial transport industry, he said.

He said large trucking firms have the potential to squeeze out owner-ops and small carriers by using the block bookings as a "commercial weapon."

Other truckers complain that the reservation system hasn’t alleviated the long lineups that plagued the ferry service before. It’s just that the queues have been moved off property and onto city streets. 

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