‘Abandoned’ Greyhound passengers ponder lawsuit

Angry Greyhound passengers were contemplating legal action against the bus company Tuesday for being left to fend for themselves for some 14 hours in a small town in northern Ontario.

Greyhound bus passengers mull about at a gas station on Monday in White River

Greyhound bus passengers mull about at a gas station on Monday in White River

Angry Greyhound passengers were contemplating legal action against the bus company Tuesday for being left to fend for themselves for some 14 hours in a small town in northern Ontario.

Many of the more than 100 westbound passengers who were stuck in White River, Ont., on two buses said Greyhound added insult to injury by giving them the runaround when they sought answers.

“It was just a brutal experience,” Paul Hitchin said Tuesday after finally arriving in Calgary.

“I’ve never seen a company do something like that to people and not care anymore.”

Passengers said the buses pulled into a gas station in the town of 840 for what they expected to be a pit stop.

A driver told them it was snowing out and to “sit tight.” He then checked in at a nearby motel.

“That was the last we seen of our driver,” said Hitchin, who paid $600 for his round trip, and was en route from Barrie, Ont.

Passengers, including small children and at least one diabetic, and some low on money, were forced to wait on the bus or hang out in a donut shop from about 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

They said only one Greyhound driver provided scraps of information on a few occasions.

Those who tried to reach a company representative by phone from White River were unsuccessful. Others complained that customer service representatives were hanging up on them when they tried Tuesday to get answers.

Late Tuesday morning, Greyhound issued a statement blaming “unforeseen weather conditions and resulting road closures” for the delay.

“We sincerely apologize for the lack of communication provided to our passengers, as well as the inconvenience and concern this caused,” the company said.

“We are conducting a full investigation and will modify our inclement-weather procedures as necessary to ensure this does not happen again.”

Passengers weren’t buying Greyhound’s weather explanation.

They said there was a short-lived road closure, but complained they watched in frustration as other buses, trucks and cars whizzed for hours before they finally got going again.

Passengers praised Karina Hunter, a reporter and editor with the online publication ontarionewsnorth.com, for drawing attention to their ordeal.

“These people weren’t safe,” Hunter said. “What if one of them lost it?”

She noted several incidents in recent years of violence aboard Greyhound buses in the area and wondered if any safety protocol changes had been made.

Greyhound spokesman Tim Stokes said from Cincinnati that the company “will be working with each customer individually” over compensation.