Disappointment, frustration follow confusing VIA pass sale

Via Rail’s promotional passes for unlimited travel this summer are now all sold out. Photo from Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press.

Excitement about heavily discounted Via Rail passes for the month of July quickly turned to disappointment among prospective travellers.

On Tuesday, Via Rail launched a promotion: for just $150, Canadians between the ages of 12 and 25 could have unlimited travel across the country by train. And those 26 and older with a valid International Student Identity Card (ISIC) could also purchase the promotional pass.

But the company had to suspend sales of the passes by Wednesday afternoon because of high demand and technical difficulties with its online booking engine.

When the Via Rail website was updated with information specifying the pass number was limited, complaints followed.

Some people were fine with the fact that there were limited passes available, but had problems with the confusing messaging. “I agree limits do make sense, but think about this before promoting it,” Reddit user v857 said.

Via Rail tweeted that limits were put in place to ensure all who bought passes would be able to get seats on the trains.

The promotional passes were available again on Wednesday evening, but were sold out approximately eight hours later.

And despite the posted limit on passes (1,867), Via Rail issued a news release on Thursday that stated more than 4,000 passes had been sold.

“Initially, VIA Rail had planned to sell 1,867 passes to coincide with Canada’s birth year, however, because of the great interest in the product, coupled with the unfortunate inconvenience caused by the crash and wait times, the sale of the Canada 150 passes was extended until 3 A.M this morning,” the release stated.

Via Rail was contacted for comment by Yahoo Canada News, but had not responded at the time of publication.