British Columbia

B.C. Greyhound bus driver leaves Christmas Eve passengers on side of road

Some Greyhound bus passengers in B.C. are demanding the company reimburse their missed flight and hotel expenses after a driver turned his bus around on Christmas Eve halfway through a trip from the Shuswap to Kelowna to pick up passengers left behind.

One couple missed their flight and had to spend Christmas in a hotel room in Enderby, B.C.

A Greyhound spokesperson said sometimes the company has to make decisions that are best for customers at the time as it works to accommodate all its customers travelling for the holidays. (CBC)

Some Greyhound bus passengers in B.C. are demanding the company reimburse their missed flight and hotel expenses after a driver turned his bus around on Christmas Eve halfway through a trip from the Shuswap to Kelowna to pick up passengers left behind.

Three passengers riding a Greyhound bus from Salmon Arm to Kelowna International Airport told CBC News their bus driver took a call from a Greyhound dispatcher about 40 minutes into the journey near Armstrong, B.C., and then turned the bus around.

Bus driver returns to Salmon Arm

Passenger Annie Hemming and her boyfriend were riding the bus to the airport in Kelowna to catch flights that would take them home to Nanaimo for Christmas. 

"[The bus driver] didn't make any kind of announcement immediately. He just turned the bus around and started driving back to Salmon Arm." she said.

"I stood up and was like, Hey, what's going on? Why are we going backwards? A couple of us have to catch flights."

The bus driver called his dispatcher back while continuing to drive down the highway, according to Hemming, and then informed her his orders were to return to Salmon Arm to pick up other passengers who had missed the bus.

After Hemming and other people on the bus protested, the driver offered to drop them off at the next town, Enderby, where he suggested they could hire a taxi to get to Kelowna, she said.

Left on the side of the road in a small town

The bus driver left Hemming, her boyfriend and three other passengers on the side of the road, across from a liquor store in the small town at about 5:30 pm PT.

"Now there are five of us standing with our bags, in the middle of nowhere, we don't know anyone in Enderby and it's freezing on Christmas Eve." she said.

Annie Hemming and her boyfriend missed their flights and spent Christmas in a hotel room in Enderby, she said, because of decisions made by Greyhound and her bus driver. (Annie Hemming)

"My boyfriend goes over to the store across the street to try and get a cab ... and he comes back out a few minutes later and informs us that there hasn't been cab service in Enderby for a couple of years. We had no way of knowing that."

Two of the passengers called a family member in Vernon to come and pick them up.

Another woman stayed on the highway hoping to flag down a vehicle to take her to Kelowna, said Hemming.

Hemming and her boyfriend realized there was no chance of catching their flight in Kelowna and found a hotel room in Enderby to spend the night.

"I was really angry, honestly, because I felt so much money was about to be wasted and it's one thing to be left on the side of the road in the dark and cold, but on Christmas? There's something a little bit, like really messed up about that," she said.

Hemming's father drove from Revelstoke on Christmas Day to take his daughter and her boyfriend to the airport in Kelowna so they could finally fly home.

Hemming estimates she and her family incurred approximately $1,000 in expenses because of the decisions made by the driver and Greyhound. 

Hemming's father has filed a complaint with Greyhound and is asking the company to cover his family's expenses.

'Decisions we feel are best for our customers'

In a statement, Greyhound spokesperson Lanesha Gipson apologized to customers for the inconvenience and wrote "during the Christmas holiday season, Greyhound experiences a very large increase in customer volume."

"Sometimes, (we) have to make decisions we feel are best for customers at the time, as we work to accommodate all of our customers traveling for the holidays." 

For more CBC stories from the Interior of British Columbia visit CBC Kelowna

now