Two problematic passengers were escorted off a B.C. Ferries vessel by police Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)

Passengers denied ferry ride after breaking rules

Queen of Cowichan delayed 30 minutes while police deal with problematic passengers

Two people from up Island found out what it takes to get kicked off a B.C. Ferries sailing.

A 47-year-old man from Cumberland and a 31-year-old woman from Courtenay were booted off Monday’s 8:30 a.m. sailing of the Queen of Cowichan from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo.

According to Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, the duo refused to put out their cigarettes on the car deck, verbally abused staff and cheated on their fare when they allegedly bought a ticket for Bowen Island – a shorter route with less expensive fare – and then drove their vehicle to the Nanaimo lane.

“Two passengers had breached boarding safety rules and were being directed to leave the ferry, prior to sailing, and were initially refusing and our assistance was called,” said Const. Jeff Palmer, West Vancouver Police Department spokesman.

Palmer said it took time for police to locate the two passengers, who had left their vehicle and walked onto the upper passenger decks.

“We were able to, with ferry staff, locate them and explain that it was in fact lawful for B.C. Ferries, under the circumstances, to request that they leave and they were escorted off the ship,” Palmer said.

Palmer said the couple’s vehicle was one of the last to board, so it was just a matter of backing it off of the ship, but the entire incident delayed the sailing by about 30 minutes, which put the ship behind schedule for much of the day.

Marshall said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin that B.C. Ferries carries about 21 million passengers annually, that business is appreciated and the vast majority of interactions with customers go smoothly.

“We ask our customers to follow the directions of our staff,” Marshall said. “Unfortunately on this occasion, it was necessary to call the police due to fare evasion and verbal abuse of our staff. We do reserve the right to refuse travel. It’s very rare, that type of action, but unfortunately it was necessary yesterday. We apologize to the customers that were delayed.”

Palmer said no further action was required of West Vancouver police once the couple disembarked and left B.C. Ferries property.

Smoking on the car deck of a ferry contravenes the Canada marine safety regulations.

“There’s exceptionally good reasons to listen to marine safety directions from people whose responsibility it is to uphold it,” Palmer said.

He was not aware of any charges recommended against the man and woman.

photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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