Glitch blamed after B.C. Ferries booked customers on sailings that didn't exist

A computer glitch has been blamed after some B.C. Ferries customers who had reserved sailings on a busy holiday Monday arrived to find their scheduled sailing did not exist.

Ferry customers on routes from Tsawwassen, Pender Island and Salt Spring Island were affected.

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Judith Barnett has travelled frequently between Salt Spring Island and the mainland for the last eight years. Knowing how busy it gets in the summer, she always reserves in advance.

On Monday morning, she arrived at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal almost an hour and a half early for her 9:10 a.m. ferry, only to be told that there was no boat.

“It was just an unbelievable situation, as I got a confirmation of my reservation when I booked and even received a generic email reminding me of my sailing on Friday,” said Barnett, 63. “I was not the only person either, with a long line of people — dogs, children and holidaymakers — in the same situation.”

The time of departure when she made the booking — 9:10 a.m. — was odd, but she didn’t think much of it because the ferry corporation regularly puts on extra sailings in the summer to meet demand.

B.C. Ferries called the incident a scheduling error.

“Unfortunately, some sailings were incorrectly built in our system for the holiday Monday, and some customers booked for sailings that were not actually scheduled,” the corporation said in a statement.

Barnett ended up having to take a roundabout route — first travelling to Swartz Bay and then transferring to a ferry bound for Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring, arriving just after 2 p.m., three hours later than she expected.

She said some fellow travellers looked obviously agitated on Monday.

B.C. Ferries said affected customers were provided with full refunds and put on regularly scheduled sailings.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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