On December 14th, 2016, a Greyhound bus from Vancouver, making its way along Highway 17, was stopped dead in Wawa.
With the highway closure, passengers disembarked the bus and took shelter in the Michipicoten Memorial Community Centre. Staff discovered after an investigation that the bus had no plans for the passengers, and to make matters worse the bus had been without any heat since Winnipeg; a journey of 18 hours.
The outside temperature that night was -25C. Mayor Ron Rody explained that some of these passengers had begun their journey in Vancouver, and were dressed for that weather. Taking charge of the situation, and making sure that everyone was safe, Municipal Staff at the Community Centre opened up the Curling Lounge and the Canteen for passengers to eat and wait for the highway to open. Wawa Area Victim Services arrived with supper and blankets and took at the risk persons to hotels for the night. Others stayed on mats in the Lounge. Staff members stayed overnight with the passengers.
All of this was occurring without any information from Greyhound. Staff tried to reach Greyhound Dispatch throughout the night and following day, without any helpful response. Finally, at 1300 the next day almost 24 hours later, under threat of booking all passengers hotel rooms for a night, Greyhound Dispatch finally gave the driver permission to go around the highway closure via 101.
Upon speaking with the Greyhound rep for Wawa, staff were informed that Greyhound does not have a plan for such a contingency. The driver can make arrangements for his hotel, but the passengers are quite literally left out in the cold.
Staff recommended to Greyhound that they plan for this eventuality so as to not have a situation like this arise again. Council has been advised that an invoice will be sent to Greyhound to cover all costs incurred by the Municipality in providing shelter and support to the stranded passengers.
In a recent CBC article, a Greyhound customer, ran into difficulties. Julianne Smit-Brousseau left Elliot Lake on Jan. 10, expecting to meet up with a Greyhound bus in Blind River, make a connection in Sudbury, and end up in Ottawa by 7:30 a.m. the next day. Instead, she sat in a Tim Hortons in Blind River for nine hours, took an extra bus to Toronto, and wound up arriving in Ottawa at 7:40 p.m. — doubling her 12-hour trip. After complaining publically and to Greyhound, Julianne and two other passengers, had their fares refunded and an apology.