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.
@VIA_Rail is it still possible to purchase them in person at a via station? Also is there a limit to how many will be sold?
— Sophie (@soph_ruel) March 29, 2017
.@VIA_Rail thanks for the update! One of your reps advised me the passes are still unlimited, looking forward to buying one ????????
— Kathleen O’Keefe (@kathokeefe) March 29, 2017
When the Via Rail website was updated with information specifying the pass number was limited, complaints followed.
Wanted to buy a @VIA_Rail youth pass lastnight- website was down, now this morning they are sold out ????
— syerra (@syerra_lynn) March 30, 2017
The best thing about this @VIA_Rail 150 youth pass is that you can tell who was poor & WAITING UNTIL PAYDAY. Who puts these out on a Tues??
— PROBABLY A LIGHTSKIN (@RJPate) March 30, 2017
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.
Bon voyage! All the Canada 150 Youth Passes have been sold.
1,867 young travellers will discover Canada this summer.
— VIA_Rail (@VIA_Rail) March 30, 2017
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.