Black Immigrant Daily News
The APT James fast ferry entering the Port of Scarborough. (FILE PHOTO)
THE TT Inter-island Transportation Company Limited (TTIT) has denied overselling tickets for Monday’s sailing of the APT James fast ferry from Scarborough to Port of Spain.
On Monday morning, hundreds of people, many with confirmed tickets, went the Scarborough port hoping to get on the vessel but were turned away for having arrived beyond the cut-off point. Some of them were replaced by stand-by passengers.
There were also reports that some of the passengers were even bumped off the vessel to accommodate steelband players who had participated in the National Panorama medium conventional band finals on Sunday night at the Parade Grounds, Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet.
The situation caused chaos at the passenger entrance to the port with many blaming the situation on the perceived inefficiencies of the system. Some even claimed the vessel was overbooked.
But speaking to Newsday on Tuesday, TTIT acting CEO Vilma Lewis-Cockburn sought to clarify the incident.
Saying she felt badly, Lewis-Cockburn added, “It makes us look as though we would have oversold the boat when, in fact, we did not. It was not oversold.”
Lewis-Cockburn said the APT James was built to accommodate 899 passengers.
“On Monday, the boat had booked a number of pan players to come back to Trinidad, together with other passengers. We had booked them to sail back yesterday morning.
“But as with every peak period, we also had passengers without tickets who would have come down to try to get on to the ferry.”
She said there is a cut-off time for accepting confirmed passengers.
“We have a cut-off time, at which time persons who are not there technically become stand-by passengers and it would seem to me that because they did not see those persons, they would have relinquished those tickets and started to sell to stand-by passengers.”
Lewis-Cockburn added, “So passengers with confirmed tickets who may have come after just went straight to check-in and because they were still checking in passengers, they took them. Because one would assume that they would have been in the line to check in because they had confirmed tickets. So it turned out that they may have taken some confirmed and some persons who would have bought tickets on the day.”
APT James passengers leave the Port of Spain Ferry Terminal on Tuesday. Photo by Angelo Marcelle
Describing the situation as a “mix-up,” Lewis-Cockburn said more than 100 passengers were affected but arrangements were made for some of them to be accommodated on the 4pm sailing of the Buccoo Reef on Monday.
“They took all they could have and there were 45 persons who remained. They left this morning (yesterday) on the APT James and it still had space for 211 passengers. Whoever didn’t go is because they just didn’t go down (to the port).”
She said the vessel left early on Tuesday with 611 passengers.
Lewis-Cockburn said the company tries to sell all the spaces that the vessel could take.
“But you always have people that do not show up on the day and you wouldn’t know until the day when they don’t show up. But there is always somebody trying to get on. So how do you treat with situations like that?”
A trucker told Newsday that the situation could have been avoided if there were more sailings to transport passengers during major events in Tobago.
“What used to happen in the past, arrangements would have been made to have additional sailings at the port. But there is not that kind of facility again,” he said.
“Long ago, any big event in Tobago, an attempt was made to have double and triple sailings to bring the people up and take them back. But that is no longer happening. Why is there not a double sailing when these big events are happening?”