The date should have been Clifford Bent’s first clue that his Greyhound bus trip from Kamloops to Dawson Creek was in trouble.
He hopped aboard the bus on Friday the 13th, just after noon, with a one-way ticket to pick up his mother-in-law’s car in Dawson Creek and drive it back home.
“It was the first time since 35 years that I’ve taken the bus,” he said Tuesday.
Bent had just enough cash on him to cover the cost of gas for the car, which had a temporary road permit that expired Sunday afternoon.
While waiting in the Kamloops depot, Bent and his wife Denise Webster met an elderly woman named Diane who was returning home to Dawson Creek after looking at low-income housing in Summerland.
The first leg of the trip was uneventful; the bus stopped in Cache Creek and passengers changed to another bus with another driver. Bent found himself sitting next to Diane — he didn’t get her last name.
They arrived at the Prince George depot after 8 p.m., and expected to have a two and a half hour wait for the bus to Dawson Creek. The depot was populated with people who looked like they were drunk or high on drugs, not to mention a wild-eyed man who carried a baseball bat.
Bent took Diane, who was scared and clinging to him, across the street for coffee while waiting for their next bus.
Soon after, one of the other passengers came over to tell them the bus was cancelled and there wouldn’t be another for 24 hours. The Prince George bus depot would close at 11:15 p.m. and not reopen until 4 p.m. the next afternoon.
“They said the driver had timed out and there was no spare,” Bent said of the explanation he got.
He was told he could get on the bus the next day to Dawson Creek or take a bus back to Kamloops that night.
He didn’t have money for a hotel room and cover gas the next day, plus the car permit would have expired. He opted to return.
“I can’t believe they just kick you out and the bus depot closes,” he said.
His new friend had little choice. Diane was heading home. She called a friend who lived an hour outside of Prince George who promised to come and get her. But she’d have to wait at the depot for an hour after he left on the bus back to Kamloops.
“The woman I left there was petrified. She was in tears,” he said.
Reluctantly, Bent got on the 11 p.m. bus back to Kamloops.
Now he’s trying to get a refund for an 18-hour stint on a bus that never got to its destination and a return trip home. Greyhound has told him it’ll take six to eight weeks to see if he even qualifies.
“As far as I’m concerned, the refund should be immediate,” he said.
“In a case like this, they should give you a voucher for a room. I don’t know anybody in Prince George. And this refund should be instant as far as I’m concerned.”
A Greyhound media spokesman in Dallas, Texas, did not respond with comment Tuesday.