Via Rail website derails for youth trying to buy $150 pass

TORONTO — “High demand” derailed sales of a $150 youth pass for unlimited travel across Canada in July, Via Rail said Wednesday.

The Canada 150 Youth Pass, which is intended to coincide with celebrations in honour of the country’s sesquicentennial, went on sale Tuesday. But the company said sales were temporarily suspended ”due to high demand” and because of “technical difficulties with the online booking engine.”

“Via Rail’s technical teams are working to find the source of the problem,” wrote Mariam Diaby, senior adviser of media relations, in an email to The Canadian Press.

The spokeswoman did not answer questions about how many of the passes would be available or have been sold so far. She also did not say whether they could be purchased at rail stations during the disruption.

The pass is for young people between the ages of 12 and 25. But students who are 26 and older with a valid International Student Identity Card (ISIC) can also purchase it.

In the promotion announced in February, pass holders can travel coast to coast in economy class but must book using the Escape fare category, which is subject to seat availability.

The disruption had frustrated students lamenting the glitch on Twitter and Facebook.

“This VIA rail situation has me peeved. I was SOO excited to get a month long unlimited travel pass for $150 but they really underestimated,” tweeted a user with the moniker @wobbleswithit.

The computer system at Parks Canada also slowed to a crawl on Dec. 1 when people jumped online to get a free annual pass being offered as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration.

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