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Smith’s Ferry submits alternative departing schedule to Gov’t

The Road Town Ferry Dock.
The three ferries that ply the VI/USVI route: from left to right Road Town Fast Ferry; Smith's and Native Son.
The three ferries that ply the VI/USVI route: from left to right Road Town Fast Ferry; Smith's and Native Son.
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Smith's Ferry Service has proposed that each week the three ferry companies should alternate the times they leave Road Town ferry dock for Charlotte Amalie, USVI, with the first ferry leaving at 6:45 am.

The three companies that ply the route on a daily basis are Smith’s Ferry, Native Son and Road Town Fast Ferry.

In the proposal, which seeks to better serve the travelling public, it is suggested that week one – Native Son departs Road Town at 6:45 am; Smith’s 7:40 am; Road Town Fast Ferry 9:15 am; Native Son 10:40 am; Smith’s 12:25 pm; Road Town Fast Ferry 1:25 pm; Native Son 2:40 pm and Smith’s 3:45 pm. The following week Smith’s Ferry gets the early run and week three Road Town Fast Ferry.

Interestingly, it has been proposed that each ferry stops at West End before travelling to St. Thomas.

The aim of the alternative departing schedule, the proposal stated, is to eliminate the overcrowding at the USVI and VI Immigration, reduce waiting time for the inbound vessel and its passengers; offer more opportunities of choice to the travelling public; reduce the wear and tear caused by the close turnaround time and the number of trips, among others.

And while the ferry owners remain tight-lipped about the issue, Virgin Islands News Online was informed that at least two meetings were held with Premier Dr. D Orlando Smith and Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool.

In an interview with Hon. Vanterpool, he disclosed Government is looking at the recommendations submitted and a final meeting with the ferry operators will be held “either next Monday or Tuesday”.

“...following that meeting the Ports Authority will come forward with a schedule proposed that we will try to implement with the ferry operators,” he added.

When asked if Smith’s schedule is the best solution, the Minister opined “It’s too quick to change that. The passengers will have to get accustomed but ultimately in the long run we would like to see a fixed schedule that passengers going to St. Thomas know that a boat is going at a certain time and they go there and get on a ferry boat. We may reduce the frequency in change to a longer time on a weekly basis.”

For ferry operators who have their own private arrangements with charter companies and agencies will continue to do so, with Hon. Vanterpool adding, “we respect those arrangements that they have and we hope they live up to the expectations with the companies they have been contracted by.”

Furthermore, the suggestion that each ferry stops at West End before moving on is not necessarily a done deal, the Minister added.

“We are not going to make these changes. All we are saying is, we want to avoid a situation that is happening, where the ferries have to wait in the St. Thomas Harbour for a long time for each other unnecessarily and therefore why should they leave at the same time and when you reach down there you have to wait an hour or two to be cleared. The ferry owners agree that is not we just want to find a solution and we have to work it through, without rushing it and understanding the urgency of it.”

31 Responses to “Smith’s Ferry submits alternative departing schedule to Gov’t”

  • Hmmmmm (29/03/2012, 07:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Tell Ira get he butt from here. Road Town Fast Ferry started the direct service to St. Thomas and the same Smith and Native Son thought it was a crazy idea. Now that RTFF is doing good business, they want the government to interfere in the people freedom of choice. Has the government consulted with the US Border Patrol and VI Port Authority? They dont have officers sitting there all day they work at the airport too. Just so you know Mr Vanterpool, just cause Ira, Orlando, and yourself is family dont mean you have to listen to what they say. USVI has no issues with the schedules how it is. The peope of the BVI has no issue with the schedule how it is. LEAVE THE SCHEDULE THE WAY IT IS. YOU DONE WASTING 40k a month paying Ira to run Anegada, is RTFF getting the same deal. You guys just sickening. You trying to tell me that if I have an early appointment in St Thomas and I dont want to support Smith, I have to wait on RTFF and miss my appointment. How is that freedom of choice. Then you going try to make it illegal to shop in other supermarkets on Mon Wed Friday, you can only shop One Mart?
    • stop talk (29/03/2012, 08:51) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      small minded ad uneducatd about the ferry boats smith and native son where the first to start that down town to down town trip when bobby him self was still wit native son, smith's ferry would leave at 8:45 while native son lift at 9:00 from road town on saturday mornings so plz stop the maddness and run off at the mouth
      • loveann (29/03/2012, 09:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        That was only one day a week. But when Bobby company started he did it 7 big days a week. Then everybody want to to do everyday after they saw it was was working out. Come On lets be real. So check it out.
    • Iron Lion (29/03/2012, 09:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      To Hmmm What the hell is wrong with you? The man clearly said it's not a done deal and they don't expect to be making many changes. He further said they will meet with ALLLLLLLLLLLLL ferry operators before moving forward. You think the GOvernment so stupid to piss off RT Fast Ferry and Native Son? COME ON!!!!!!
      • Hmmmmm (29/03/2012, 18:00) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        You going off of what you read, I going on facts from inside the meeting a$$ lion. Dr. Smith is forcing Mark hand to address this issue. The passengers dont have an issue with the schedule, so why the government acting as a mediator to help Ira make money. When Bobby statrted Ira said he a fool and he wastig fuel. Now all of a sudden he trying to get he family to force the passengers to travel on he boat.
    • loveann (29/03/2012, 09:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I agree with you 100 per cent. Ira needs to go clean his boats and market his business. Mr. Hodge market his business that is why he is doing so well. I am pretty sure Mr. Hodge has thousand of schedule already printed go to his counter you will see what are he suppose to do with them. As far as I am concern Bobby started this direct service and it is really unfair that he has to change or bend to Smith now. Smith want to control the Government and he alone could not make them win. Hon Premier be fair and stop listening to your family do the right thing. If we have to march on this then we will I personally will. Ira please go still down and leave fast Ferry alone. When your business is slow you team with Native Son. When Native get more passenger than you you fall out with them.
    • Steve (29/03/2012, 15:10) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      The Ferry Schedule is a mess right now. It is set up at this point that you have to spend a night in a hotel because you can not get to the airport in time or get off a plane and make a ferry connection without waiting 3-4 hours. I think this alternating and spaced out time schedule is a great idea! Sounds you are a hotel operator that is in fear of losing business.
  • FATS FERRY TRAVELLER (29/03/2012, 07:54) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I am just upset at this, how can you tell me that your ferry is the only ferry in the morning, Bobby (FAST FERRY) has spacious Ferries which he took his money and invested in, the reasons for this varies such as persons like me who are cluster-phobic, who do not want to stop west end, and thirdly who do not intend to travel on the other cramped up ferries hence the reason that they have a choice. Mr. Smith (Smiths Ferry) why do you want govt to intervene and slump things down our throat, upgrade your ferries from being an environmental hazard with all that black smoke, on two occassions i have assisted persons who have fainted on the blue ferry, not me again. If we say we ARE a nation moving forward then Mr. Smith keep your proposals because if this is implemented your morning ferry WILL definitely go to rock empty, BVI people stop making people force things on you, we are the customers we determine the market NOT them, if this happens they can raise their prices how they want and we have to suck slat, Let the other ferries step up, then and only then we will considered being force to ride the others as the service and comfort of all three will be competitive, until then leave as it is, Mr. Vanterpool government cannot and should not intervene in everything, Please seek advice and wisdom and then make a proper decision
  • Dem Say (29/03/2012, 08:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    pay back time..Hodge tis you dem realy want
  • Not2Sure (29/03/2012, 09:05) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Personally, I am with Ira. I think it is *insane* that all the ferries leave at the same time. But it should not be a matter for Government regulation. Will any ferry company be brave enough to put on a late night ferry so that people have better access for returning flights coming through St Thomas?
    • Hmmmmm (29/03/2012, 18:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Just for information, Road Town Fast Ferry has a 9pm ferry that leaves Red Hook on Thursday thru Sunday. Right niw since the season is near end, its only available from Friday thru Sunday....If you have any further questions, please call 494-2323.
  • VG Resident (29/03/2012, 09:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Set up a fixed schedule with 30-45 min between ferries. Keep things simple. No one wants to try and figure out a changing schedule. I almost always use RTFF. It is the best ferry service to/from STT and keep it non-stop.. Speedy ferry runs the best ferry service in the BVI. Always on-time and comfortable.
  • f them (29/03/2012, 09:26) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Seems like after each election once the ndp win certain people give their family power to control this sector... What a thing to tell the king
  • Online Now Now (29/03/2012, 09:44) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    They should really start earlier in the morning too. It would be good if we could reach St Thomas in time to get flights at 8 am.
  • loveann (29/03/2012, 09:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I dont agree with the schedule proposed at all. Smith Ferry still will not get any more business. Native Son I hope you dont give in to Ira with his stupidness and the Government is just as bad. Hon Premier forget about family and please please do the right thing.
  • loveann (29/03/2012, 09:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Who the hell is Smith to submit schedule to the government he runs the Government now. I surely did not vote for I. smith. Smith is to big sit sit with the other companies and discuss this but instead he runs to the NDP Government for whom he thinks he could control. This got to stop. ROAD TOWN FAST FERRY ALL THE WAY BROTHER MAN with NSI as our back up.
  • Real Talk (29/03/2012, 11:06) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well, NDP got a good thing going so far so they better don't mess it up with this nonsense or it will be PROBLEMS!!! Bobby was down and out and was the laughing stock of all ferry operators. Now look! The man has worked hard to bring quality ferry transportation to the BVI. I will not travel on any other boat, especially with my family. RTFF is very comfortable and efficient. YOu feel like you're on an airplane. Nice enclosed comfortable area, AC and entertainment for the same price as going on Smiths diesel, smokey old boats! NO SAH!!!! This alternating thing doesn't make sense. If they want to do anything, make a bigger gap between departure and arrival times, but alternating schedules will confuse the heck out of people. What about those planning to travel overseas via STT etc.? It makes no sense!!! Ira, go shove it! I don't mean to be rude, but this man hasn't made any attempts to update his boats or his business why would people have to be forced to use him? That's propostrous! This new services is all about his own business not being beneficial to the BVI on a whole. Ira, bring good boats and we will travel with you. Until then, SORRY!!! Furthermore, Archie and NDP talking about cleaning up. I am a staunch supporter but I'm watching closely to see if they will make Ira clean up that environmental hazzard he has down at Road Reef, right across from the POLICE MARINE BASE!! If this year passes and it's not cleaned up it will NOT look good. You cannot be telling people to move an old drum or old car from their yard when you have multiple boats in our WATERS rusting, sinking, leaking oil and fixing, spraying boats in our waters and right in the heart of our town area. NONSENSE!!
    • ooooo (29/03/2012, 15:34) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      this is the only time me and you will agree
      • the real deal (29/03/2012, 23:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        the bottom line is to get and Bobby to please does not have to be a rocket scientist even the dead can see this!
  • ddb (29/03/2012, 12:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Anyone else see the problem lurking with this set schedule option when busier seasons such as carnival and christmas comes around?
  • Tram (29/03/2012, 12:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I have not traveled to St. Thomas on Smiths for as long as I can remember. I don't want to be forced to start again. But definitely this situation needs regulating. A possible solution may be to 1) At the top of the hour (let's say 7:00 am), two ferries leave WE 15 minutes apart but one will go to Charlotte and the other to Red Hook. 2) 30 minutes later (7:30am), another two leave RT 15 minutes apart. One to Charlotte and one to Red Hook. Because the WE boats leave first, by the time the RT boats get to St. Thomas, the WE boats should have already emptied their cargo and passengers, moved out of the way and be ready to load the St. Thomas passengers for the trip to WE and RT. For Tortola - St Thomas, repeat this at 11:00am and 3:00pm, and we should be fine. For the trips from St. Thomas, the slots could start at 9:00, 1:00 and 5:00. Maybe the government should lease the slots. Then the operators can fight for slots if they want. As long as we the people are not forced to use any particular operator. I would also suggest that the BVI government only allow the larger, cleaner, safer boats (and all that would imply) to participate.
    • Hmmmmm (29/03/2012, 18:48) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Nothing aint wrong with the schedules. All that needs to happen is that the passengers need to come early and the port authority enforces that ferries leave on time.
  • Small Head (29/03/2012, 13:02) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I hope people can see right through what is going on here! Pour politics!!!
  • Ferry People (29/03/2012, 15:04) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    It’s a fact that the government approached all of the ferry operators to come up with a schedule that would assist all passengers including tourist travelling to and from the territory. The government wanted to alleviate the wait at US Immigration & Customs by giving passengers a choice to travel and assist tourist travel to and from the airport in St Thomas. Smith’s Ferry was the only ferry operator that gave a proposal. The idea of stopping into West End gave all ferry operators a fair chance at both ports a request that Fast Ferry been waiting for approval on for a while. This was a round the table discussion between the operators. It is a proposal that was not forced on the government because they are still at the discussion stages. It is amazing how the discussions were months ago and VINO is now reporting a detailed one sided story when no one from the media was present at the meetings.
  • Edward (29/03/2012, 20:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Let the government to stay out of the scheduling business, something they know nothing about. Private enterprise will schedule a ferry when the majority of the people want to go. If there is a demand to travel at a time there is no ferry, then someone will schedule a ferry for that time. The ferry operators are there to make money. If there is a need for a ferry, someone will supply the demand. This is nothing but politics and Ira is in the middle of it.
  • help help (29/03/2012, 23:25) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    smith helping smith
  • In Fairness to Customers (30/03/2012, 02:34) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Based on the above printed article I think that something is missing. In the first instance Smith Ferry should have first initiated discussions with the other ferry operators to see if they can work out good schedules to accommodate the traveling public. As it stands now the public is not being served. It is unconscionable that people travelers cannot get to and from St. Thomas at reasonable times when there are three ferry operators each with at least two vessels. The government does not need to and should intervene in this. The matter should be worked out amicably among these operators. Why should the government step in and flex its muscle to accommodate one operator? Truth is many people have been turned off with the attitudes of these operators. Many have observed that Smith Ferry is not customer friendly and has refused to patronize their ferry service. The proposal is not a bad one but this should be settled by the operators in the spirit of cooperation, better customer service and economy. It is interesting that Smith has now become interested in alleviating overcrowding at the USVI dock. This is something that they have contributed to when they had an arrangement with the former Director of Port Authority of St. Thomas, Mr. Darlin Brinn. Under the arrangement, Smith Ferry had first preference to dock even if Native Son or Road Town Fast Ferry arrived ahead of them. I have sat on Road Town Fast Ferry many mornings waiting to dock while we wait for Smith Ferry to move ahead of us even though we arrived ahead of them. For the others to dock ahead of Smith Ferry they had to arrive with Smith Ferry not in sight. If they were in sight they had to circle the harbor and wait for Smith to dock first. That is an indisputable fact. It was Smith Ferry, Speedy, Native Son and Road Town Fast Ferry in that order. That was grossly unfair but there are reasons proffered that that arrangement They used their influence in St. Thomas then and now they want to use it here to accommodate them as they seem not to be doing well. That is grossly unfair. Road Town Fast Ferry charges Five Dollars for a simple package and Smith Ferry used to charge Fifteen Dollars for the same package. Now they don’t even bother to take packages. Is that good customer service? Anyone traveling to St. Thomas can attest to the way Smith Ferry employees blatantly mislead foreign passengers. They have a 9:15 am departure from Road Town to St. Thomas via West End and Road Town Fast Ferry has a 10:00 am departure. In trying to lure passengers they announce that they go directly to St. Thomas and never mention the stop in West End. Unsuspecting passengers jump on board only to find that they make an unannounced stop. Meanwhile, Road Town Fast Ferry leaves fifteen minutes later directly to St. Thomas and often gets down ahead of them. If that’s not bad enough, they often depart almost at the same time or slightly ahead of Road Town Fast Ferry. They need to come clean and develop a good working relationship with their peers in the interest of better service. Passengers headed for the BVI arriving at the airport in St. Thomas should know with certainty that they will catch an evening
    • work time (30/03/2012, 15:58) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      wow you mean you sit and write this blog...well saw ayo need work!
  • Well Sah (30/03/2012, 09:03) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    As far as I am concern, I do not want any govt interference in private business which will be bad for the traveling public. Let them compete in the free market. If a company can not compete then they will be gone and thats how the free market works.
  • taxpayer (30/03/2012, 17:13) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Dr. Smith needs to be careful with this and the reason is obvious. When he was pressed for an answer concerning the second ferry service to Anegada he said that tenders would be invited and this was not done. Now we know who will be providing that extra service to Anegada. We are presently paying $40,000 dollars a mth in subsidies to the one ferry operator. This means that a total of $80,000 plus will be paid out for the daily service to that island. Can we justify that type of expenditure for a service which will be operating with an estimated passenger load of six or seven? As I see it, we are not too far from TCI. It is only a matter of time.

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