Confusion, anger still linger over Via Rail's $150 unlimited pass offer

It seems like a pretty sweet deal — for just $150, young people under the age of 25 can spend the month of July travelling to anywhere in Canada by train.

It was ostensibly to promote Canada for the country's 150th birthday.

But Via Rail's rollout of its promotion didn't go nearly as well as it had hoped — and now an entire generation is upset with Canada's national rail carrier.

The problem, according to the company, was people's interpretation of the phrase "unlimited passes".

"We failed to explain that unlimited passes meant the number of trips was unlimited, as opposed to the quantities of passes available," the company said in a statement issued last Thursday. "We know our customers, particularly Canadian youth, were frustrated and we are committed to addressing their concerns."

Meagan Brennan, a 24-year-old recent university graduate, was one of those who tried to get one of the passes — and says she was devastated to learn that she had lost out on something she suspected was "too good to be true".

"I feel like they didn't prepare properly," she says. "I understand that they had a limit, but at the same time, think it through before you get everyone's hopes up."

Unbeknownst to Brennan and plenty of others, only 1,867 passes — a figure meant to represent Canada's Confederation year — were being made available. In the face of the overwhelming demand, the company raised that number to 4,000.

The company also suggests that it would be physically impossible to make an unlimited amount of seats available for an entire month, and that they had to cap that number.

Nonetheless, Brennan says the situation was utterly mishandled.

"I am angry and disappointed in Via Rail for the way they handled the entire situation," she says. "They might have been able to gain 1,867 new customers for one month for $150 each, but you have certainly lost hundreds if not thousands of customers."