Post by Low Light Mike on Mar 10, 2008 21:05:29 GMT -8
The company has debt of at least $750 million, taken on since the B.C. Liberals privatized the former Crown corporation in 2003. The privatization, however, guards the company from having to say exactly how much it owes, said Coons. "I've heard it's closer to 1.5 or two billion they're in debt. That's a real concern."
The above quote really mystifies me. What is the article writer and Coons speculating about?
Are they saying that there are other bond-issues owing, that aren't declared?
Or perhaps they are saying that there is a list of unsecured creditors, hidden in a company called ferryscam-co?
It think it's dangerous when a financial comment is bantered about, without anyone explaining what it means.
How could an audited company hide debt? Are we talking Enron-accounting here? Is Coons saying that there's a multitude of subsidiary and sister companies, where debt is parked?
Or does the quote just sound good for the Tyee's slant and for political rhetoric?
I'm not disputing that a few more facts would be good from that article, but I had a few little comments.
1. Since 2003, they have spent: a) 500ish million on 3 super-Cs. b) 100ish million on Sonia/NorAd, albeit they got 60 million back from insurance c) about 10 million on the Kuper d) about 50 million on the Island Sky e) about 40 million each on 4 C-class MLUs - 160 million f) has the NorEx been paid for yet? if so, that's 130 million f) I have lost track of how much they have spent on terminal upgrades g) Widening highway 17 coming into Swartz Bay
If they're only in debt by 750 million, and according to their financial reports they are only making about 40 million each year in profit, where is the rest of the money for all these upgrades coming from? That's an awful lot of capital to be investing so fast, with no apparent source (to my feeble attempts at understanding this).
Granted, I'm not much of a "bean counter", but something doesn't add up here.
Post by cobblehillian on Mar 11, 2008 12:59:05 GMT -8
Since we are looking into BCF debt and expenses I would be interested to know what post-privatization increases were made in executive salaries and the number of executives. Across Canada in the last 20 years there have been very consistent increases in executive pay and numbers after privatizing public and quasi-public companies. I cannot find any BCF executive pay information after a cursory look. Were BCF a truly investor owned company with publically traded shares disclosure of the salaries would be required by law.
An increase of $1 to 5$ million, not unreasonable in terms of the 21 member executive would have its effects on fare increases and funds for improvements, etc.
I don't know anything about salaries, but I do know that the number of executives and managers has skyrocketed in the past 5 years. When I worked at head office last summer, I got at least 3 emails a week announcing a new manager in such and such position. And no, most of them weren't replacing anyone.
Post by Political Incorrectness on Mar 20, 2008 14:52:24 GMT -8
BC Ferries hikes rates Last Updated: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 | 6:37 PM ET CBC News Spring may be coming, but don't expect any bargains on the way to the islands for a holiday.
Starting April 1, BC Ferries is hiking fares on the three main routes between the mainland and Vancouver Island by seven per cent to $43 for a car and driver and $13 for passengers and pedestrians.
BC Ferries says rising oil prices are partly to blame for higher fares. (CBC) All other southern fares will be hiked four per cent. The price change will not affect northern fares, which have already been set through Sept. 30, 2008.
The fare increases are necessary because of the rising cost of fuel as well as operating and capital expenditures, said the ferry corporation in a statement released Wednesday.
And customers can expect things to get worse before they get better.
"If world oil prices remain at the current historically high levels, BC Ferries expects a fuel surcharge will be automatically implemented by the fall," warned the ferry corporation.
Customers with prepaid tickets won't escape the pinch, either. After April 16, anyone with prepaid paper tickets will be required to pay any price difference at the ticket booth.
In September 2007, the B.C. Ferry Commission, which regulates the fares and service requirements of ferry service on provincially-regulated routes, approved total fare increases of up to 27 per cent over four years, starting April 1.
Knox column: Cherished ring found in search of ferry garbage B.C. Ferries' lost and found
Jack Knox Times Colonist Saturday, April 05, 2008
Heather McLaughlin treasures the rings that her grandfather had made for her grandmother 65 years ago: Diamonds and sapphires, worth maybe $5,000, but priceless to the woman who wears them today.
So imagine how McLaughlin, pulling up at her mother's Powell River home after a day of wedding-dress shopping on Vancouver Island, felt when she noticed her finger was bare. "My heart just dropped."
The 34-year-old legal secretary searched the car. Nothing. Nor was the jewelry in the dress she had picked out for her August ceremony. The rings, soldered together into a single piece, had to be back on the ferry, the last sailing from Comox last Friday night.
Fiance Darryl Heppner called the ferry terminal, asked them to search the Queen of Burnaby. B.C. Ferries rang back a while later: Nothing yet, but we're still looking. Heppner called again: Can we search the garbage? No, Ferries told him, there are safety issues, but we'll look for you. Nothing McLaughlin could do but wait by the phone.
And then, glory be, McLaughlin got the news she feared she would never hear: "They found it in the bottom of the bag, in the last bag they looked in." A ferry worker named Sue Montgomery sorted through the trash to make the discovery.
McLaughlin is profoundly grateful that a stranger put in such an effort on her behalf. "I'm so appreciative that she worked so hard to find it." McLaughlin figures the ring set slipped off while she was drying her hands on a paper towel in the ferry washroom.
This was not, of course, the first time a passenger has lost a possession on a B.C. Ferry. Travellers leave hundreds of items on the ships each month. Most of the stuff is what you would expect -- cameras, hats, cellphones, purses, sunglasses (summer), umbrellas (winter) and so forth.
Some items are head-scratchers, though. Wouldn't you notice the breeze when riding your motorcycle off the ferry without a helmet? But then, it's a mystery how prosthetic limbs end up in lost-and-founds, too.
The Times Colonist's Jeff Bell once turned up tales of televisions, computers, a wallet containing thousands of dollars, even a bag of dope, false teeth, explosives and inflatable marital aids, all left behind.
One story now legendary at B.C. Ferries involves an urn of human ashes discovered on the car deck of a ferry at Horseshoe Bay in the 1990s. Don't know how you forget something like that. Maybe it was the mother-in-law. In any case, the owner was tracked through the crematorium whose name was on the urn.
Just this Monday, someone left his Viagra on a ferry. The corporation is trying to contact the owner through the doctor whose name is on the prescription. Hope the guy had a nice vacation anyway.
B.C. Ferries spokesman Mark Stefanson says staff try to contact the owners when identification is found on mislaid items. Otherwise, the wayward bits are stored in the terminals for a couple of weeks -- longer if the forgotten object appears valuable or special. "After that, items are donated to a charity of the local terminal's choice," says Stefanson. Swartz Bay sends its loot to Big Brothers. Tsawwassen's haul goes to the Delta Thrift Shop. Tsawwassen has also been known to send valuable goods to an auction house, with the money then going to charity.
McLaughlin's ring set was in a different category entirely. It wasn't just forgotten on a passenger seat, but lost at the bottom of a trash can, one diligent ferry worker away from never being seen again. Stefanson says B.C. Ferries president David Hahn made a point of commending Montgomery and her colleagues for their good deed. That pleases McLaughlin.
As for the bride to be, the first thing she did Saturday morning, after retrieving her grandmother's ring set, was take it to a jeweler to make smaller. McLaughlin doesn't want go through last Friday's adventure again: "It was a great day that almost went really bad."
Michelle Leck steps on the gas -- sorry, the accelerator -- of B.C. Ferries' new electric GEM e4 car.
With the pedal to the floor, the ticketing supervisor zips around the Swartz Bay terminal at a speed of 39 km/h. Made by Chrysler, the four-seater GEM -- which stands for Global Electric Motors -- looks like something from Bedrock. But the bubble-shaped vehicle, which is not equipped with an internal combustion engine or a tailpipe, delivers a quiet, comfy ride.
This little GEM hums. And it sneaks up on unsuspecting pedestrians who can't hear it.
The car loses a little speed when Leck drives up the ramp to the ferry dock. It's also slower when there are four people on board: That's the nature of a small electric motor.
Although ferry employees are a fan of the technology, not many would consider taking this model on the road because it has a fabric door and plastic windows.
B.C. Ferries bought its first electric car, a $24,000 GEM e6, in December 2006 for use in its Tsawwassen terminal as a shuttle from long-term parking to the foot passenger ticket booth. In January, they purchased the Gem e4 for $18,000 for Swartz Bay.
"We wanted to cut our costs and we also wanted to see what we can do to help the environment," says Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries' director of media relations. "It's such a positive thing."
She estimates the corporation will save $3,000 in gas this year alone.
"We'll also avoid spilling 8,400 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment."
It takes six to eight hours to recharge the GEM, which can travel about 50 kilometres without recharging, said Marshall. "For our use here, it's perfect."
In White Rock, Electric Car B.C. sells six models of the GEM vehicle. President Brad Ackerman said the company has sold the electric cars to corporate clients.
Catherine Scrimgeour, public affairs specialist for Toronto-based ZENN Motor Co., says she has been bombarded by e-mails every day from B.C. residents who want to know where they can buy a ZENN car. The electric vehicle can travel up to 60 kilometres at an approximate cost of just two cents per kilometre.
But although ZENN has sold more than 300 zero-emission no-noise cars in the U.S., Europe and Mexico since its launch last year, the company is not selling its cars in B.C.
"And we wouldn't," said Scrimgeour.
"The only way we could sell the ZENN vehicles now is if the car conformed to the regulations for slow-moving vehicles like a farm tractor. As a consumer, who wants to purchase that?"
Until now, with the state of battery technology, electric car companies have not been able to make a high-speed, long range vehicle that people could afford, said Scrimgeour.
However, two weeks ago, ZENN announced its plans to sell a highway vehicle by September 2009 which will be rechargeable in minutes, with a top speed of 125 km/h and a range of 200 kilometres. It will be sold at a premium over the price of an ordinary internal-combustion car.
The provincial government's recognition of the electric car comes too late for Dynasty Electric Car Company, which had been manufacturing electric vehicles since 2001 at a facility on Annacis Island in Delta, said general manager Danny Epp.
Dynasty created and sold 200 electric vehicles, primarily to the U.S. The company is now closing its doors, blaming the negative attitude of both the federal and provincial governments. An automotive manufacturer in Pakistan has purchased the company's assets and intellectual property.
"We won't come back to Canada," says Epp. "We will export back to the U.S."
Epp wants provincewide legislation to allow electric vehicles to travel up to 55 km/h on 60 km/h roads, similar to Washington state.
"We've been faced with regressive legislation that limits the use of the vehicle. The government has wiped out the market. People are not going to buy these vehicles," says Epp.
The numbers of cars that are used in very urbanized centres for short hops is considerable and electric cars could have a big impact. Judging by the number of smart cars on the road there is a demand for small, environmentally friendly transport. I still feel funny seeing them on the freeways though here. If you lived not too far from work and needed to drive you could hop in your electric car, drive to work, park and plug in, and have your car ready for the drive home. Lots of better planned communities and resorts in warmer climates are doing this with golf carts that are electric.
If the legislation was there I could see the current proliferation of hourly rental cars by AutoShare and ZipCars etc. add electric vehicles. Many vehicles in one or two spots are parked in above ground parking lots waiting to go. A solar recharger backed up by the grid could keep the cars charged when they are sitting and if you needed to just run around downtown it would be perfect. Stores could have spots reserved for electric vehicles so you could plug in while you shopped. Like our frigid prairie friends with their plug ins for block heaters .
My brother recently sold his car and since he lives and works in downtown Toronto figured the money he saved on insurance, parking, maintenance and depreciation was costing him a fortune. So now when he needs a car to get somewhere on a timeframe too short for transit, or needs to buy something too heavy, like giant bags of gourmet dog food for his allergy prone moose of a dog , he simply goes online and reserves the car for an hour or two and off he goes. The money he saves is substantial.
A friend bought the car space in the condo he and his girlfriend live in despite selling their car. They now use ZipCar and rent out the space to a guy who works in the office across the street for $200 a month cash! They needed to buy the spot for future resale of the condo and now make more money off of the spot than they spend in hourly car rentals. There is a hybrid they rent but it is so popular they have trouble getting it. Since the gas is covered in their hourly rate they don't rent it to save money but for the environmental aspect of it. They would rent an electric over the hybrid if they could.
There was an article in the last few days in either about this very thing but I can't seem to locate it. They indicated the ZENN car was a go for BC but not in Toronto where it is made. The reporter could be wrong but hopefully not and this is the start of a good thing. Think of a fleet of pooled cars/hourly rentals for the seniors living in Victoria. Maybe a special local local licensing that retricts the cars to city streets would help speed approval as well.
*Kudos to BC Ferries. Maybe all their service vehicles will go electric or at least hybrid soon.
As in the photos below, I have seen electric vehicles two times while on or around BC Ferries & terminals. Both times it has been while on route 2. Are these what they are talking about? I assumed that these were being used for purposes such as delivering magazines & gift shop stuff onto the ferries and were not being used for passenger transport.
Those are the ones. I saw the GEM car at SWB back when we did the Saanich round trip a few weeks ago. My dad got me the manuals and such to read and let me play around a little with it (just turning it on and playing with settings etc.). It is only powered by a 5 horsepower motor, which is possible since an electric motor has a much wider "power band" than an internal combustion engine, and therefore requires much less peak power.
Apparently, they got 4 big guys in the car, and it still managed to get up to about 45 km/h heading downhill, where it was limited by a governor. He says the biggest issue is that people don't hear it coming behind them.
Post by D'Elete BC in NJ on Apr 14, 2008 4:12:58 GMT -8
Hmmm...maybe they need to invest in some form of "squealing device" similar to those little deer devices you can buy...riding along with the quiet hum of the electric motor, the wind blowing though your hair tempered by the high pitch wailing of your warning device and screams of the people as they scatter! ;D
The lack of noise on Electrics and Hybrids has been in the news quite a bit lately, both locally and nationally. The CNIB and other associations that deal with the slight-impaired have long touted that the new electric/hybrid cars are silent killers. I think that even 60 Minutes did a story on this in the recent past. I do agree that to a certain segment of our population, silent vehicles can present a problem. I don't agree to make them as loud as a conventional vehicle, but perhaps there is some elegant way to add some kind of a distinctive chord to them so that they are not completely invisible to the sight-impaired. (And I am going to skip the arguments about visually-impaired deaf people that need to feel the vibrations of a close-quarters internal combustion engine......)
Slaving away in the moving and delivery industry in 'METRO' Vancouver in addition to running my own small business Dependable Transportation & Logistics - www.deptrans.ca
Here's something that I got in my daily "Google alerts".
I don't subscribe to this particular news-source, so I couldn't see the full article. But the headline and lead-in was interesting, so I'll cut/paste that here, and see if anyone on this forum can fill in the rest of the story: ==================
BC Ferries slices worker for poster threatening to ‘pie’ CEO
Canadian Employment Law Today (subscription) - Toronto,ON,Canada
BC Ferries employee Art Farquharson found out what may seem funny to one person may be taken quite seriously by others, especially in the workplace. ...
Yes, there will be a rush on hotel space in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. No, that does not mean the RCMP should charter cruise ships for use as floating barracks.
The police have proposed that cruise ships be hired for six weeks between January and March in 2010. These vessels would hold about 5,000 beds, enough for all the security personnel being brought to Vancouver for the Games.
The RCMP estimates it would cost $5 million to charter ships to provide those beds, although that number is a guess. The cruise lines would not normally have ships anywhere close to Vancouver at the time, so they would need to be pulled from service along the Mexican or Caribbean coasts.
The cruise companies are not likely to be keen about losing revenue from vacationers anxious to relax in the sun. The RCMP did not consult with the ships' owners before producing its estimate; the price tag could be much higher.
The ship idea is not new. Security personnel were housed on ships during the Games in Sydney and Athens. That does not mean it is the right choice for Vancouver.
If the RCMP is serious with its houseboat idea, there is another possible solution.
B.C. Ferries wants to get rid of four of its older vessels, the Queens of Tsawwassen, Esquimalt, Vancouver and Saanich. They aren't worth very much; maybe $500,000 each.
Instead of trying to sell them, B.C. Ferries could donate them for use during the Games. The old ferries could then be converted into interim housing for the homeless or for people with addictions. If need be, they could be taken to locations well away from the pressures and temptations of downtown Vancouver and Victoria.
These ferries already have washroom and kitchen facilities, as well as plenty of room -- those vehicle decks -- that could be converted into living space. The accommodations would not be cruise-ship quality, but would be adequate.
The conversion would take money, of course. But think of what we are paying to house the homeless already.
And the $5 million or more the Mounties plan to spend leasing cruise ships could go a long way toward making the vessels livable.
The ships could be kept in Vancouver until the Mounties cleared out, then moved into their new roles.
One criticism of the Games has been that the event will benefit the wealthy -- the people who can afford condos in Whistler and hotels in downtown Vancouver and tickets to Olympic skating and hockey.
Housing for the homeless would change that perception.
Post by Coastal Skier on Apr 16, 2008 7:11:55 GMT -8
It sounds like a great idea if you ask me. This would definetly solve a lot of the homeless and addiction problems.
experience does for the soul what education does for the mind. British Columbia->New Zealand->Japan #jordanskisandexplores Flickr | Instagram ------------------------------------------------------------
That's an Excellent Idea! Would definatly work for the homeless. They'd Just need a dock for access to the Ships. For those Addicted People in Rehab, here's a possibility. They could take them aboard, then leave the dock with the Addicted, anchor out a Kilometre or two from land, and there you go, Instant Rehab Facility separated from land. Only way out is by water. Food and supplies would be shipped out by a barge.
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Post by Starsteward on Apr 16, 2008 8:31:15 GMT -8
An excellent idea for the use of the soon to be sold BCF vessels but it probably won't 'sail' as it makes too much sense, something that is in desperate short supply from our politicians and other stakeholders these days.
Tell me you guys aren't serious. This idea is absolutely insane.
This is the sort of thing that the Chinese would do for their Olympics, or the old Soviet regime, or the Nazis back in '36- put all your poor and your troublesome citizens in camps; hustle them out of town while the world is watching, so that everything looks perfect and tidy. Put them in floating camps, and, of course, don't ask them if they want to go. After all, we've got a party to put on.
The international reaction to this would be far worse than what the sight of homeless and drug addicted people will produce. No one would believe that this was a serious attempt to house the homeless. Canada would be seen as a cowardly, quasi-police state attempting to present a sanitized face by stashing all it's social problems away on old rustbucket ferries.
When Rick Mercer sucked some Americans into believing we send our elderly away to ice floes in the arctic, people laughed. Maybe they shouldn't have.
Seems like a hugely simplistic solution for a hugely complex problem. One of the biggest issues facing drug users and "their temptations" in the Downtown Eastside is that they suffer from varying mental illnesses or cognitive imparement. When people simply say move them from where they are they fail to consider several important elements: 1. Many of the social services available in the DE are not available anywhere else in BC with quantity or certainty; 2. There is even less mental health care away from Vancouver; and, 3. The networking in the DE is one of the best ways the death rates resident safety are maintained. Although the DE isn't a nice place to visit it is not dangerous in a physical sense as it is made out to be, although drug dealers may get into physical altercations there is actually not a violence problem with the area. Drugs themselves, aside from the issues of their creation usually through organized crime, are also not the total evil made out by media potrayols. While I do not want to appear standing up for drugs there are examples throughout the world where states have controlled the distribution of the drugs found in the DE and the levels of harm associated with drugs have dropped durastically.
The number one killer in the Downtown Eastside is unsafe injection methods - not drugs.
It is amazing to me that irrational solutions such as putting everyone we see as being on the edge of society in one place, this time in ferry boats (of which two it appears a modern miracle they're still afloat) that we can oh so simply move away to get them "out of our way." Frankly this is a shameful solution that would not even work as a stop gap - the conversion time and cost would well exceed retrofitting the builginds already owned but not currently being used by the Province of BC in the DE area.
The author of these piece shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the issues.
Post by Starsteward on Apr 16, 2008 18:25:02 GMT -8
Whoa thar matey's..back the boat up! Perhaps I should have clarified exactly what part of the discussion on the re-cycling use of the soon to be sold BCF vessels I was talking about. I was referring to the 'short-term' use of these vessels by the RCMP or other security forces for 2010 ONLY and not in any way suggesting that these vessels be used to house the homeless and folks with various other problems. I believe that those topics are best left to other forums, but it is interesting to see what a hornet's nest of opinions the possible use of our dear old ships has created
There was no misunderstanding on my part, or on Dane's. The article specifically addressed the idea of housing and hiding homeless, and no doubt, other, troublesome people on old ferries during the Olympics, and that was exactly what I was directing my comments at. To repeat: the idea is jaw-droppingly stupid.