BVI News

Local operators resist new ferry approved by BVIPA

Native Son ferry

The BVI Ports Authority’s decision to introduce a new ferry operator in the market has angered the existing ferry operators who transport passengers between the BVI and the US Virgin Islands.

The three ferry companies — Native Son, Road Town Fast Ferry, and Smith’s Ferry are calling on the BVIPA to rescind this decision as they say there won’t be enough business to sustain an additional operator when the BVI reopens its seaports on April 15.

The existing ferry companies will have to downsize their operations when the seaports reopen.

There will only be one round-trip per day between the BVI and St Thomas in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands. This means each ferry will make a maximum of two round-trips per week when the BVI’s seaport reopens to international traffic.

Disrespectful to not consult us

In an interview with 284 Media, owners of these transportation companies said they recently received a phone call from the BVIPA where they were told to make space for another ferry operator that it had recently approved.

The ferry operators say they feel disrespected by the lack of consultation before the new operator was approved.

“The point isn’t whether or not it (the new ferry) was approved. Why is it even a topic of conversation, especially during these hard times? When you think of the market that we have to operate in — to add another business; it’s more than hard in my opinion,” said Janette Brin whose mother owns Smith’s Ferry.

Native Son operator Rose Christian said the timing of the new ferry operator is bad especially since the existing operators will be limited to 50 passengers per day when the ports reopen.

“That’s a cut of almost 200 per cent — the number of passengers we would have normally been able to carry. So you’re looking at a significant loss in revenue for each of the companies. In addition to that, we should have been respected enough to have a sit-down dialogue concerning bringing on another ferry company. Native Son has been in business for over 44 years, I think we deserve better than what we are receiving right now,” Christian explained.

Evaluate the market first

The ferry operators say they’ve agreed to an existing schedule as of April 15 and were told by the BVIPA that they can revise this schedule to include more trips if business improves after 40 days.

Christian said she would prefer if the BVIPA evaluated the market after the initial 40-day period to determine if another ferry operator can be accommodated.

The owners of Smith’s Ferry suggested that the BVIPA placed a freeze on approving additional ferry operators until the market becomes stable. Majorie Smith — the owner of Smith’s Ferry — also suggested that the government conduct a feasibility study to determine whether the market can handle any additional ferry operators.

Here’s what the owner of Road Town Fast Ferry, Byron ‘Chucky’ Hodge, explained: “There’s nothing personal against the new ferry operator — he’s a friend of ours. It’s just that we’ve been operating for so many years. We’ve been hauling whatever came to the table. It’ a seasonal thing. We don’t see the need for another ferry operator right now. We have issues with the port never fixing the schedule. So how are you going to put another ferry to complicate things even more? Right now is not the right time.”

In the meantime, BVI News understands that the newly approved ferry operator is Derek Maduro, a businessman who is well-known within the community.


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  1. Mr. Chin says:

    Competition is good for business. I’m from China so I should know. People now have more choices. Go improve on your business.

    Like 88
    Dislike 10
    • yep says:

      especially since they raising price on people.

      Like 26
      Dislike 3
    • PEZ KOI says:

      Yes Mr. Chin for giving them that piece of free ADVICE. Competition is always good for business,

      Like 14
      Dislike 2
    • Andrew says:

      We have allowed this operation to compete as it allows more citizens to work. It brings more choices, cheaper prices, and incentives for existing companies to upgrade and reexamine their operation of business. The models need updating. I fast tracked this business to fruition with the assistance of HoA and Trade. Thank you members.

      Smooth sailing to all.

  2. Mr. Green says:

    Native Sun, in business 44 years and still using the same boats. Smiths, very same picture.

    Come on winners! Those horses are almost dead. Allow in some new blood with newer equipment which can operate on less fuel and more profit.

    You guys have done nothing but make a hugh mess in your ship holding area with vessels sitting on the water bottom and oils floating all around. No one feels sorry for you!!!!!!!!

    Like 95
    Dislike 3
    • Yup says:

      Exactly! geeze 44 years and you all complaining. That is how long you all have been making money in that field. Stop being greedy and give someone else a chance. What is more he is a son of the soil, not a stranger. You all go sit down or man up and shake his hand and say welcome.

      Like 54
      Dislike 5
    • Yes sir says:

      Makes alot of sense their boat isn’t reliable at all I’ve on numerous occasions stop at sea on the native son ferry.
      Had 2 inhale dangerous smokes felt like I was dying . Put in2 ur company invest in it those boats r very old!

      Like 23
    • Yep says:

      You so right come on bvi stop being selfish everyone got to eat.So what if someone else do the same business you doing.

      Like 12
  3. Ausar says:

    While I can understand the sentiments of many, it’s time for newer operations.

    Perhaps the timing is wrong, and the lack of consultations with current operators can be deemed as a form of moral malfeasance, but it’s always the right time for expansion of business, in any area of commerce!

    Like 51
    Dislike 2
  4. Rubber Duck says:

    The existing ferry companies run filthy and or noisy and or smokey and or unreliable pieces of old junk ships on the route. They have horrible ground and ticket staff and generally give the impression they couldn’t run a coffee stall or gaf about their passengers.

    I suspect the new entrant is Speedy’s which is not wonderful but it’s better than the others. So I welcome it.

    Like 30
    Dislike 2
  5. Competition says:

    There are around a dozen ferry companies in the US and British Virgin Islands. Just choose 6 and allow each ferry company one round trip per week: Speedy’s, Native Son, Smith’s, RT Fast Ferry, New Horizon, Sensation, etc.

    Like 7
    Dislike 3
    • BVI BS says:

      Not allowing any of the currently existing (or Pre-COVID if you like) companies to operate and get a piece of this tiny pie is unethical. Sad display of favoritism and discrimination.

      Allow all BVI registered ferry companies to operate. Split the pie equally.

      Want to complain? here…
      The problem is the limited schedule. The sea ports were suppose to be open a long time ago. How much money did the ferry companies loose by the delay? Can you really say seaports are “open” only allowing one trip a day for ferry operators only? Why not 90 minute minimum intervals like the airport?

      Keep in mind the entry procedures have not been clarified. When Government announces that – will ferry travel even be worth it?

      Like 6
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  6. Styles. says:

    Very much expected of course that people are afraid to lose business.

    But you know what, that’s the biggest problem in the BVI. There is no competition anywhere and that’s why service is so horrible everywhere.

    More competitors (in theory) should lead to better economics and better service levels.

    Don’t cry, just work harder.

    Like 43
    • Jah says:

      But that is the belonger way. Cry.

      Competition will bring down prices. Step up your game crybabies. Wah, wah, wah….


      Like 22
    • Lilly says:

      Work smarter, not harder. Get a new vessel, be more polite and run on schedule, and you will do fine.

      Like 17
    • 007 says:

      That what happens when you have Trade Commissions and the like preventing competition and making sure all the cronies are having it easy.

      Like 9
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    • Yep says:

      You so right come on bvi stop being selfish everyone got to eat.So what if someone else do the same business you doing.

  7. capt says:

    I going make as simple as it gets
    native son inc – service aint to bad upgrade your fleet you should be good
    smith ferry services-very poor customer service fleet need upgrade and don’t forget you leased boat to run an had other company to run
    Road Town fast ferry -they upgrade but always late an they also leased boat when it had other company
    I say that to say this when the other sider came in no noise but ah local you want kick up come on support you own all of ago use that same company when you all vessels was down it have food for everybody

    Like 10
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  8. hmm says:

    I think its great that there will be a new ferry operating. Competition is always good! But, given the current circumstances, the demand isn’t there for another… Maybe when we’ve fully opened up in June(According to Andrew). But It is needed, just not right now. There’s 4 companies currently and only 50 passengers(if you’re lucky) can enter per day. Simple economics- supply and demand along with proper market research.

  9. BuzzBvi says:

    New entry has a concrete co. Both the concrete co and this one have just (allegedly) got pioneer status!! Pioneer!!!?? How that? Send a bit more like crony status. This new ferry makes no sense and pioneer status so no tax paid and other benefits not fair to other companies. What’s up???

    Like 12
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    • COI says:

      This kind of information needs to go to the COI as it is called CORRUPTION in the real world..

      Like 7
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      • BuzzBvi says:

        Allegedly until you look at SI No 19 of 2021-Pioneer Services and Enterprises (Sensation Ocean Charters Inc) Order, 2021 and follow that with SI No. 20. Why are the media houses not doing this work investigating?

    • BuzzBvi says:

      Allegedly until you look at SI No 19 of 2021-Pioneer Services and Enterprises (Sensation Ocean Charters Inc) Order, 2021 and follow that with SI No. 20. Why are the media houses not doing this work investigating?

    • Smh says:

      You wayyyy off

  10. Earl says:

    The dots from Venezuela are joining up !

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  11. Hilda says:

    I wonder if these ferry operators made their case with the USVI as well? We so hate our own that we are willing to fight tooth and nail to keep them down.

    Each one of those companies has one boat, when it breaks down they put you on all kind of small boat that takes hours to get from Stt to Road Town, Tortola.

    How many bars, beauty salons, yachting companies, car rentals etc we have here to serve the same passengers that will take the ferries between the islands, so why the fuss. If there is enough business for them, there is enough for five ferries. Speeds looks like it is no longer in the picture, so the new ferry will take up some of that slack. Unity is strength.

    the FERRY schedules are so close, with no ferry at a certain time of the day. I trust that new ferry operator considers this because I hear those complaints all the time and it cost a fortune to have to charter a boat to STT if you have a flight and there are no ferries or the ferries are full (and that happens from time to time.)

  12. Tola says:

    BVIPA right don’t mind them!

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  13. Competition Needed says:

    It’s high time for a new ferry company to enter into the BVI.

    Customer service is very poor. Native Son is the worst.

    I guess with competition we will leave on time, speak and deal with customers with respect and act like professionals.

  14. Never consults says:

    Hasn’t anybody figured this out yet?
    This government never, ever consults with any of the players, the stakeholders, locally.
    The government’s one and only consultation is with the Accountant General: “Anything in this for me?”

    Like 8
    Dislike 2
    • BuzzBvi says:

      Seems Gov was consulting with someone. Look at SI No 19 of 2021-Pioneer Services and Enterprises (Sensation Ocean Charters Inc) Order, 2021 and follow that with SI No. 20. Why are the media houses not doing this work investigating?

  15. SMH says:

    When push comes to shove, it’s the Passenger’s( Consumers) Choice as to whom they will travel with. Also, if the New Ferry comes with a more befitting price $45 + fees/taxes One Way and $75 + fees/taxes Round Trip. If You want People to utilize Your Ferry Services You’ve got to come RIGHT! These are hard and trying Times and as You see from the closing of the Sea Ports, People didn’t travel and Ferries were docked. Of course You have to make a Living, but don’t kill potential Passenger(Customers) with these ridiculous High Prices for a mere 30 to 45 minutes boatride. I for One will plan a trip with Family Members and Pool Our Funds together and charter a Boat. So You Ferry Owners need to think unselfishly! If the Price is Right, Bring On the Competition! Greediness gets NOTHING!

    Like 9
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  16. Anonymous says:

    Who is in more command / control of the vessels, is it BVIPA or St.Thomas ? What’s the capacity of each vessel ? I have never ridden on none of these ferries.The BVIPA should asked the ferry’s operators ,those in horrible conditions, now is the time for servicing / upgrade them to international standards,as they are represents a high standard of the USA guide lines.Sounds like these vessels are opetating in some South American countries where no standards are set,come on guys live up to the United States Of America STD.
    Now is the time to carry out maintenance one by one to comply with vessel Ordinance Act.

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  17. Late says:

    You need a late ferry edpecially on the weekend. So spread the business

  18. Sundsys Only says:

    The New Ferry gets one day, Sundays only, while all the other existing ferries get two days each…There is nothing to complain about..Hope the Port dont bend, thats a good move…They need to stop complaining and start working on how to reduce the fees and servicing their passengers better…

  19. Chi who- nah says:

    Who are you to have such an input?
    You toss the covid in on us, now you are here interferring again. We bought some new cant work equipment. Tek dem up ans leave please.

  20. 2021 says:

    Native son is the w**+t don’t talk about them customer service horrible.

  21. Everyone got to says:

    Have free access to spend there money ..allow the man..we have no prices control and yet still no option..bulls**t…look like there all want to kill the people

  22. consumer says:

    the people needs options and this is democratic system. customer service is the key plus people should be free to spend their money wherever they desire. native son and smith need to go sit down with that narrow minded thinking in 2021

  23. Smh says:

    I’m actually happy a new ferry service is being introduced. The service for those ferry especially Smiths is horrible. These people seem to have a sense of entitlement. BVIPA I’m with you on this. As far as I know every time a new ferry is introduced the older ones are up in arms.

    Fast ferry had the same problem when they came on stream. Sensation ferry also had the same problem.

  24. Confused or dumbfounded says:

    We have had over 1 year of no busines… Everyone is eager to get back to work.
    BUT – the same story repeating time and time again, no consultation / no sit down lets discuss / no respect for those already in the business. Imposing their opinions and decisions seems to be ‘their’ normal and we are to be OK with that.
    In a thriving economy and with more than plenty of business and population to withstand, YES we should think of expand and competing. You are asking the stablished business to dilute even further what may be coming ahead…. wow

  25. who to blame says:

    I am neither for or against, however i would like to see the ferry tickets interchangeable. If you miss one boat you can catch the other one on schedule. Of course the BVI Ports Authority would have to work this out with the operators.

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