Delays after passengers aboard Bell Island ferries refuse to get out of cars

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Delays after passengers aboard Bell Island ferries refuse to get out of cars

Several passengers on the ferries that sail to and from Bell Island refused to leave their vehicles Monday once onboard, causing hours of delays.

The first incident involved a mother and a daughter onboard the MV Flanders who were returning to Bell Island after a medical procedure. 

Police were called to the terminal in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's and other ferry passengers fumed as the ferry — which was supposed to depart at 11:15 a.m. for Bell Island — didn't budge.

Safety is 'top priority'

A statement from the province's Department of Transportation and Works said "the safety of passengers and crew on all provincial ferries is a top priority."

"All ferry services in the province require that passengers vacate their vehicles before the vessel is permitted to sail and until the vessel is safely berthed," according to the statement.

After three hours — and some negotiations — the passengers relented and made their way to the upper deck and the Flanders departed for Bell Island. 

But just a few minutes later, the Legionnaire had a similar showdown. 

Some passengers on the Legionnaire also refused to exit a vehicle, so the ship — which was already travelling at the time — turned around and returned to Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. 

The incident ended and the Legionnaire eventually sailed on to Bell Island. 

A department spokesperson said there are times when people need to be accommodated and they "may contact crew members and will be provided assistance as their particular circumstance dictates … and will provide advice to staff and crews on how to best accommodate passengers who may require assistance."