The newest passenger ferry company has learned a lot as it hits an important milestone – three months in operation.
That from Hullo Ferries’ CEO Alastair Caddick in an interview with Vista Radio. He says over 85,000 riders have taken their service since their inaugural sailing on August 16th.
“We’re really pleased with the response that we’ve had in both communities,” says Caddick. “The feedback that we’re getting has been really positive, around the friendliness of our crews, the speed and ease of getting from downtown to downtown, and how modern and beautiful the inside of our ferries are.”
In September, Hullo became the first company to offer special event late night sailings those have been open for certain sporting events and concerts.
“People have been really positive about that,” he says. “[It allows] them go see a sporting event, like the Canucks game, and be home in their bed the same night. We’re happy that we’ve been able to offer that, it’s something the community really asked for and the response has been great.
With the busy holiday travel season around the corner, he says they’re looking at ways to increase sailings from their four round trip per day schedule in December.
“People will be shopping or going to the Vancouver Christmas Market, and seeing friends and family,” he says. “We’ll certainly have the four round trips throughout December, but we’re looking on certain days to increase the number of sailings so that it’s even more convenient for people.”
As for the inclement, windy weather that winter brings with it, while he boasts that in October Hullo ran 100 per cent of its sailings, he acknowledges that will be an outlier in the coming months.
“Living on the Island, I think that people know there will be some conditions where it is too windy and too wavy for us and others to cross,” he says. “Every single day, our crews and operating team are getting more experience in these conditions. It’s allowing us to increase our comfort in different weather conditions […] But listen, there will be days gale force wind conditions that affect us, BC Ferries, and all the other operators. Ideally those will be few and far between, but sometimes mother nature has the final say.”
Caddick says that when cancellations do happen, they’re trying to get better at communicating quickly with riders to give them enough advanced warning to change their plans and not be caught off guard.
Looking towards the future, he laid out a few areas of growth that they’re looking into. Caddick says they’ve worked to solve the problem of transportation to their terminal in Nanaimo. They’ve added a parking lot, and recently started up a shuttle service from downtown.
“We know that people need to be able to easily get out to our site, but not everyone has a car or wants to park out there,” he says. “So our free, complementary shuttle bus is the next part of that service.”
They’re also looking into adding other routes, but that takes a lot of planning in terms of permitting and acquisition of vessels to service the route.
“Somewhere around Victoria would be a natural next step, but there are communities that need this kind of service and Hullo would love to fill that need,” he says.
“We’re continually trying to improve the service and make things easier for our guests to travel. Keep looking out on our website for additional special events and services as we grow.”