Conflicting advice regarding Greyhound bus policy on flag stops creates confusion

Jack Adams, a resident of Sunkatchers RV Park located 12 kilometres west of Keremeos, is upset at Greyhound Canada over a roadside pickup that never happened.

Adams purchased a one way ticket to Hope in October of 2010 in order to meet his wife and assist her in driving the Hope – Princeton Highway after her visit in Vancouver.

Upon purchasing the ticket at the Keremeos Greyhound depot, he was informed by depot manager Sandy Taylor that it was not Greyhound policy to make stops in between depots. Adams was insistent, prompting Taylor to give Adams the number of Greyhound’s Customer Service Department.

Adams drove home, only to call later to tell Taylor that he had been told by  a customer service rep that Greyhound would, indeed, stop in between depots for a pickup.

Taylor relayed the news to the bus driver, who noted that “Greyhound doesn’t do that.”

“Someone has to inform Greyhound Customer Service,” Taylor replied.

Adams was told he would be picked up as long as there was room enough to pull off to the side of the road, and as long as he was standing at the roadside, in the Hope direction, with preferably nothing more than carry on  baggage.

Adams managed to get on the bus. A month later, he again bought  a ticket, with the expectation that Greyhound would pick him up at Sunkatchers RV Park once again.

“I repeated the policy to him, saying it hadn’t changed,” Taylor said. “And this time, after going home and calling customer service, he was told that the driver would not pick him up. I told him that the policy was definite this time, but he insisted that I talk to the bus driver, who reluctantly agreed to pick him up if – and  only if –  he was standing by the road, and there was room enough for the bus to pull off the road.”

According to an eyewitness, Adams was making his way to the road and was still in the driveway to Sunkatchers RV Park when the bus rolled on by, even though it was late.  In addition, there wasn’t enough room on the side of the road to pull over. This time, he was not picked up.

John Newman, who also resides at Sunkatchers, said that he was picked up once in November in front of the park, en route to the lower mainland. On two subsequent occasions the bus dropped him off there.

“ I purchased my ticket online,” explained Newman, “then phoned the depot in Keremeos to arrange to have the bus stop at Sunkatchers. When I came back a couple of days later, the bus dropped me off there.

The next time I called for the same service – in January – I was told the bus wouldn’t stop because there wasn’t room to pull over.”

But at least a couple of times in the past, the bus had indeed stopped, as both Newman and Adams were aware.

“I think that pick up is at the driver’s discretion,” Newman concluded. “ I phoned head office over this – and I was told that it would be OK for the bus to pick me up at sunkatchers.”

In Adams case, he had purchased a nonrefundable ticket, and so far has not been able to get reimbursed. Greyhound has the option of two different fare types; flex fares and econo fares. A flex fare allows the purchaser to make changes to the ticket, including obtaining refunds, without service fee or penalty. Econo fares, on the other hand, are much more rigid, with restrictions that include no refunds. Econo fares are sold at a reduced rate.

“The ticket he purchased was cheaper, but it is still good for a year for an additional $15,” Taylor said.  It’s unfortunate, that in his original call to customer service he was given the wrong information – but the second time he was made fully aware of the policy.”

“Basically, coach operators are not authorized to make flag stops,”  said Kevin Cluett, Agency Manager for Penticton.

Greyhound operates as an inter city bus line, and the nearest stop west of Keremeos is Hedley.”

Cluett admitted that some drivers may do a flag stop as a courtesy, but they really shouldn’t due to possible liabiliy and safety issues.

 

“Each town has a designated bus stop of some kind,” Cluett added.

“In years gone by, flag stops were more commonplace, with the stipulation always being that if the passenger wasn’t at the roadside waiting, the bus continued on without stopping.”

 

Cluett said that in Jack Adams’ case, he could apply for a refund through Greyhound’s Customer Service Department.

In the meantime, both Newman and Adams believe the simple act of stopping for a prepaid fare would mean a great deal to the residents of sunkatchers.

 

“I drove a couple from here into Keremeos a few weeks ago,” Newman said.

There are several others who use it  (the bus) quite regularily.

 

It’s really convenient – if I have to drive to Keremeos and leave my vehicle unattended and unprotected, I feel that I might as well drive to Vancouver and save myself the worry over leaving my vehicle in what might be an unsafe location.”