Hundreds of passengers waiting to travel on the ferry shuttle between Buenos Aires and Montevideo suffered this week unexpected delays because of lack of vessels and stricter migration regulations for minors, admitted Buquebus, the company which has a virtual monopoly of the River Plate crossings.
Buquebus said part of the delays can be attributed to the breakdown of one of the ferries which underwent further complications during trials and the fact that mid January is when the big turnover of tourists in Uruguay takes place. Those who arrived at the end of the year are replaced by a new "shift" that usually remains until the first days of February. "The turnover of tourists with the beginning of the new fortnight and new Argentine regulations with complex migratory controls about traveling minors, with less officers than needed for the task, plus a technical flaw experimented by one of the vessels during trial operations and later repairs, caused an overall major delay in operations", said Buquebus in a release. Another alleged reason was the strong winds over the weekend which limited activities in the port of Montevideo. However in spite of the release there are growing complaints about the ferry service of a fleet which includes several Australian built fast vessels. Delays in peak days are becoming common; traveling conditions on board the oldest vessels are controversial since on occasions the trip is overbooked and the air condition system is out of order or overstrained and there have been accidents in the River Plate (collision with fishing vessels) and when docking. Much of the poor service and shortcomings go unreported because Buquebus has an efficient PR office and strong political influences on both sides of the River Plate, but as traveling conditions worsen, complaints are expected to increase and the company could be forced to shape up.