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Victoria Harbour Ferry adopts QR code system for hailing a water-taxi ride

Scan the code on dock signs using a smartphone and fill in the form to request a water taxi
Victoria Harbour Ferry general manager Barry Hobbis with a QR code that provides for a new way to ­hail a water taxi. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Hailing a Victoria Harbour Ferry vessel just got a little easier with the company launching a new dispatch system that allows passengers to call for a ride by capturing a QR code with their smartphone from any of the stops around the harbour.

“We wanted to step into the 21st century,” quipped general manager Barry Hobbis. “This updates the way we serve our water taxi passengers.”

Capturing the QR image takes any smartphone to a harbour ferry portal and a dispatch request form. Customers fill in details like where they are, where they want to go and how many people are in the party and a ferry will be sent to that location.

Hobbis said the system will allow those waiting for a ferry to get their request through even when dispatchers are taking phone calls.

The system also allows the dispatcher to track all ferries in the harbour and dispatch the one closest to the customer and send a message to the passengers telling them when the vessel will arrive.

The customers will be able to see where their water taxi is in the harbour and which direction it is travelling in.

“This will eliminate the need for people to be on hold, like when it’s busy in the summer time” and eliminates busy signals and “God-awful elevator music,” said Hobbis.

The QR codes are posted at every dock site around the harbour.

Hobbis said the system has been working well since launch last week, but they will keep the phone reservation option ­available as not everyone is comfortable with QR codes and smartphones.

“The take up has been really good, but the really nice part is we’re not leaving anybody out there waiting,” he said.

Victoria Harbour Ferry is also preparing to launch a Valentine’s Day cruise and it has decorated one of the ferries in hearts and lights and a hand-picked selection of romantic music.

The cruise takes passengers from the docks in front of the Empress Hotel on an abridged tour of the harbour and to the docks in front of the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort. At the Delta’s Lure restaurant a table will be waiting with champagne and dessert.

“We’re hoping that will give people a bit of a relief, let them get out and enjoy each other and it’s a little bit of decadence,” Hobbis said.

The cruise on the “Love Boat” will be offered between Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 for $80 per couple.

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