Friday, March 24, 2023

Bus cancellation strands riders

| February 23, 2023 12:00 AM

CSKT Transportation provides an essential service for the Mission Valley that I, for one, rely upon. I am a single man who is not able to drive due to medical challenges. I have been riding the bus from Missoula to my home in Polson for the last two years on Mondays, two to three times a month with four to five other riders.

On Monday, Feb. 13, I walked a half mile to the Greyhound bus station in Missoula to catch the 11:30 a.m. bus to Polson, operated by CSKT Transportation. I arrived about 10 minutes early and when no bus arrived, I went to the counter and asked if the bus was running late.

The Jefferson Line employee pointed to a piece of paper taped to the counter informing customers that the bus was not running Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday starting Monday, Feb. 13. When I asked why it was cancelled, he advised me to call the number listed on the paper.

I called CSKT Transportation to learn they had lost a driver and were not sure when the three-day-a-week service would be resumed. I asked how come I was able to buy a ticket online the night before and why I was not notified of the cancelled service when they had my phone number and email address.

Upon asking questions and suggesting that people should not be able to buy tickets when service is cancelled, that a text message about the cancellation could have been sent, and that they might consider posting a notice in the local papers, I was told I was being rude.

On Feb. 14, I went online and was able to book a ticket for Wednesday, Feb. 15, from Missoula to Polson at 11:30 a.m. I called CSKT Transportation and was told the service was still not available. When I spoke with the Jefferson Line Customer Service Manager I got her to see if she too could buy tickets on the day services were canceled. She was.

I submitted a refund request for the cost of my original ticket to Greyhound, which sells the tickets online. My request was denied.

Their response was, “Greyhound Lines, Inc. is committed to provide quality customer service and maintaining affordable prices. It is important for us to strive for improvement and your input will help us with this process. With regard to your concern, our records indicate that this is an Economy Ticket, which has a zero-refund value. We apologize but are unable to honor your request. We hope you will not let this incident deter you from using our services and will give us another opportunity to prove we can be the most reliable and economical form of transportation to meet your travel needs."

I finally obtained an approval for a refund after numerous calls to CSKT and Jefferson Lines. I was told the refund check should arrive within 14 to 21 days.

I am disappointed that Greyhound, Jefferson and CSKT are not working together more closely for the benefit of the riders who depend on their services. I hope they will figure out how to do a better job of advising riders of changes beyond just a sheet of paper taped to a counter, and that they update the website.

I understand: employees quit, obstacles happen. But better communication can help all of us who depend on these services.

I hope they get the full service back up and running soon. I could have used it on Tuesday.

William Lambson


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