Follett insists commercial reservations system working
Marine Atlantic President and CEO Wayne Follett provided an update Thursday on the corporation’s commercial reservations system.
The new program came into effect Mar. 15.
Mr. Follett acknowledged since the introduction of commercial reservations a number of independent trucking companies have identified challenges with the system.
“ We have taken these concerns seriously and have made a number of adjustments specifically designed to address them.”
These actions include continuously adjusting inventories to meet emerging demand as best as possi- ble within the capacity limits, reduced check-in times to allow units to arrive at the terminal closer to sailing time, increased cancellation timeframes for a commercial reservation to 24 hours to free up bookings for last minute loads, and an online reservations system to increase flexibility for all commercial customers.
However, local truckers have identified two major concerns for their smaller operations including the inability to book in advance due to cash flow challenges, and the requirement of full payment at the time of booking. The other concern is the desire to continue to travel on a first-come, first-serve basis with- out an advance reservation.
Mr. Follett said “To address concerns related to cash flow, Marine Atlantic has implemented a partial payment system for small carriers such that they are no longer required to pay in full up front.
“To accommodate the desire for a first-come first serve option, Marine Atlantic has introduced a wait list to enable up to 10 tractor trailers per sailing to enter the property and wait for an opening on a vessel. To date, on average there has been less than one tractor trailer per crossing utilizing this service; many tractor trailers have been transported on the next sailing and the majority have been within 24 hours.”
Mr. Follett insisted these changes demonstrate Marine Atlantic’s willingness to adjust the reservations system to improve it for all commercial customers, and the majority of trucking companies have adapted to the commercial reservations system.
“We have received written support from the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, whose members transport approximately 90 per cent of the product entering and leaving the Island of Newfoundland. In addition, the Canadian Grocers’ Association, which represents the majority of businesses providing food, have also endorsed the system stating ‘commercial reservations are showing improvement in service and quality of product as compared to the uncertainty that preceded the system.’”
And he said despite the capacity challenge of the current fleet, Marine Atlantic is transporting record volumes of traffic.
“ We worked with over 300 commercial trucking companies to move more than 30,000 commercial units since Apr. 1. The corporation has experienced an increase of seven per cent of tractors trailers over the same period last year.
“This demonstrates that the commercial reservations system is a benefit to our commercial customer, the people of the province and the corporation.”