Citykinect Provides Ride Hailing App for Victoria Harbour Ferries

Feb 22, 2022

The water taxi system in Victoria, BC, Canada is a wonderful service that has operated in the inner harbour of the city for over 30 years. Times have changed over those decades, and opportunities for improving the systems that enable the service have gradually manifested themselves.

Devices, SIM Connectivity, and GPS Tracking

When we were presented with a chance to address those opportunities, we were eager to jump at it. After all, we already had all the tools for implementation in place: GPS devices, SIM connectivity, and our GPS tracking software.

In short order, we were able to bring together the hardware and software infrastructure to suit the need. Even though these tools immediately improved the management of the ferries’ system, the remaining puzzle piece was improving the customer experience.

We rolled up our proverbial sleeves and got down to business.

Customer Experience: Dispatch, Ride-hailing, and Real-time oh my!

After a period of discovery with the client we put a plan together. We were determined to enhance the customer experience without alienating the ridership.

Historically, the water taxis used a phone-in system for ride requests. As you can imagine, during peak periods this process required a lot of patience and person-hours to process all the customers. Even at the best of times, customers were kept on the line while the dispatcher handled other requests.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on hold, but it’s generally an unpleasant experience.

Enter the Ferrykinect System!

The solution? Collect the customer details and place their request into a dispatch queue. Think Uber, but for ferries!

Given that there were many sites for pick-up, we opted to generate a QR code for each to facilitate identifying the location.

We enhanced our existing GPS system so that dispatching personnel could receive requests into a queue. Using their existing coordination methods, they could arrange trips with captains, but use the Ferrykinect system to communicate the ETA and boat information back to the customer.

At each step in the process the customer would be made aware of the status of their request and the time commitment for each request is reduced.

No calls. No furious note-taking. No hold music.

But wait, there’s more!

We couldn’t just stop there, of course. Discovery taught us customers really wanted to know where their ferry was. The E in ETA can be pretty vague, after all.

After more sleeve-rolling, we extended the system to provide a real-time view of the ferry location to the customer as well. Now they could see their boat skipping along on a map on our customer’s own website. All via a simple to install plugin.

All Aboard

We love creating solutions! This one was very special to us, and not just because we love the customer (we do) or because riding the harbour ferries is a fantastic experience (though it did help). We got to open up our whole technology toolbox for the best fit.

Do you have a problem in need of a solution? We probably have an answer in our toolbox. Give us a shout and we can chat about it!


Victoria Harbour Ferry
Times Colonist

Jeff Skillen