Stormy weather offers lessons

B.C. Ferries needs to do a better job sharing information with anxious travelers

Whenever the Malahat shuts down due to a vehicle crash, there is always a call to do something about it: install concrete dividers or even build a new highway further inland.

The chances of a new route being constructed are slim to none, which is actually much higher than the chances of a bridge being built to link us to the mainland. Still, when B.C. Ferries suspends its service – as it did for most of Sunday – there are the inevitable calls for change.

Granted, B.C. Ferries has no control over the weather. But the company should still take something away from how it handled the weekend’s wicked windstorm.

There was confusion in the terminals and a noticeable dearth of information released to media reporting on the unfolding events.

Passengers who remained in their vehicles, instead of braving the gale force gusts to go into the terminals or search out a staff member, were literally in the dark about how long they were expected to stay put.

We’re sure B.C. Ferries has access to some sophisticated technology to help decide what conditions are safe to sail in, as well as advanced applications for helping forecast future weather.

There’s no reason more of that information can’t be shared with anxious passengers – with the understandable caveat that nothing about the weather is certain.

Instead it was left to those hoping to get home to use the technology available to them – smart phones, iPads and laptops – to research weather patterns and share with those around them.

One of the bright ideas that came from a review into a major Malahat shutdown was the need to better communicate with stranded motorists.

B.C. Ferries should take that into consideration and find more ways to communicate with their customers to help ease the anxiety caused by long delays.

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