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Marine Atlantic delivers on promise of an improved service for summer 2011

September 16, 2011

The Chairman of Marine Atlantic's Board of Directors, Rob Crosbie, and the President and CEO, Wayne Follett, today released a stakeholder‟s report card outlining the results of the ferry corporation's peak summer season. "We made a commitment that our customers would witness an improved service this summer and we delivered on that promise. The summer season has proven to be very successful and our customers are telling us that it is one of the best summers ever for Marine Atlantic," said Crosbie.

Key performance measurements and customer feedback collected over the busy summer season confirm improvement to the service and positive feedback from customers. Highlights of the summer season include:

  • Vessel on-time performance : This summer there was a significant improvement in on-time performance. Vessels sailed on schedule 91 per cent of the time, compared to 59 per cent in 2010 and just 43 per cent in 2009.
  • Availability of reservations : Customers were able to reserve a crossing every day this summer. 99 per cent of sailings were available to customers up to the time of departure.
  • Customer feedback : Independent surveys completed during the season show that 74 per cent of those surveyed were highly satisfied with their travel experience with Marine Atlantic, up 23 per cent from last year. Satisfaction with food services increased 23 percentage points to 73 per cent.
  • Wait time for commercial traffic : Even with a growth of 2.8 per cent in tractor trailers and drop trailers traffic, wait times for commercial customers were reduced by 63 per cent from 18 hours in 2009 to less than 7 hours in 2011.
  • Argentia-North Sydney ferry service : Passenger utilization on the Argentia-North Sydney ferry service increased by 28 per cent over 2010 as a result of the introduction of the MV Atlantic Vision with its improved amenities and significantly more cabins. Combined with upgrades to the terminal property, customer satisfaction increased to 87 per cent, up significantly over 2010.
  • Vessel Cabins : The MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders offer 96 modern and efficient cabins during each crossing, double what was available in previous years. The MV Atlantic Vision has 150 cabins, more than three times the amount available in previous years on the Argentia-North Sydney crossing. This summer customers were pleased with the increased availability and purchased 22,948 cabins, 25 per cent more than the previous year. Customers overwhelmingly reported high satisfaction with cabin quality.
  • Reliability : Marine Atlantic introduced two new ships to its fleet in 2011. The MV Blue Puttees and the MV Highlanders are proving to be extremely suitable for our service. Their interior design and layout, expanded customer amenities, increased vehicle capacity of 50 per cent, and their demonstrated strong ability to successfully manoeuvre in each of our ports is resulting in greater reliability.

Overall, the fleet has performed very well during the busy summer season with only one return sailing cancelled for maintenance. Customers reserved to this sailing were notified four days in advance and provided an opportunity to sail on an alternate crossing within four hours of their original time. In comparison, vessel breakdowns during the summers of 2009 and 2010 resulted in thousands of customers being rebooked to alternate sailings more than 24 hours from their original reservation.

Follett noted that the only disappointment during the summer was a 5.3 per cent drop in the number of passenger vehicles compared to last year. "This reflects similar decreases in "drive‟ statistics in the rest of Atlantic Canada and the fact American tourists travelling by vehicles are down," said Follett.

Employees are the key

Follett attributed much of the Corporation's success this summer to the efforts of Marine Atlantic's frontline and hospitality employees. "A huge thank you to all the frontline and hospitality employees who embraced the significant changes asked of them. These employees were the key to moving the organization forward. It is because of their commitment that our customers are experiencing such an improvement in our service. I have personally received many positive comments about their professionalism and their commitment to this organization."

Tremendous efforts towards change

Crosbie added that the changes at Marine Atlantic will not stop with one successful summer and efforts will continue to achieve the goal of becoming a modern and efficient corporation offering a high level of customer service. "Our summer success is a direct result of the commitment, effort and dedication of Marine Atlantic employees and the management team over the past couple of years."

Follett noted he is extremely pleased with both the degree of improvement and the pace of change. "Our team received funding in Budget 2010 and a year later we had a new fleet in service, improved infrastructure and enhanced customer service. This reflects our overall effort working together to benefit our customers, with every player doing their part to ensure our success. More hard work will take place in the coming years to ensure we achieve further improvements for our customers," he said.

Significant efforts are underway to renew terminal properties and infrastructure over the next couple of years. Marine Atlantic will also be examining and improving its business processes to ensure a modern and efficient ferry service.

Through a $520 million, five-year commitment of new funds from the Government of Canada, Marine Atlantic is undergoing a transformation and renewal program to all aspects of the corporation. Fleet renewal was the first priority to ensure reliability and comfort for passengers.

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Media Contact:

Tara Laing, Communications

Tel: 709-772-8974

Email: tlaing@marine-atlantic.ca