For years, Greyhound Canada, and Voyageur before that, provided Canadians with hassle free inter-city transportation. Taking a Greyhound Bus then, was just about as easy as taking any city bus in Canadian cities like Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal. You could buy a ticket. After that you could spontaneously then choose any bus that suited you, going anywhere across Canada, and then spontaneously take any bus coming back. Getting a ticket was easy. Customer service was also polite and respectful.
Greyhound Canada would also ensure that there would always be surplus buses available to make sure that you got to your destination in a timely manner irrespective of whatever bus you chose. In so doing, Greyhound Canada had provided passengers with peace of mind. Greyhound Canada although arguably not as comfortable as a more spacious VIA Rail train ride, presented itself as a easy-to-use and overall user-friendly alternative.
However, unfortunately for Canadian inter-city bus goers, Greyhound Canada has recently changed, and not for the betterment of the convenience of its users.
Now, you CANNOT buy a Greyhound ticket and then spontaneously depart and return when you like. Greyhound Canada has done away with the very advantage it has had going, in comparison with VIA Rail.
Greyhound Canada has become completely inflexible and has no apparent concern on how its change-of-attitude affects loyal Canadian bus riders who have used them for years.
Now, you can only depart and return on the precise times shown on your ticket. If you decide, “hey, I would like to leave a couple hours late or earlier that I had originally planned” you may be told in a rather curt and patronizing tone that the alternative time you sought is “sold out”, and now, basically to “get lost!”
If you arrived later than the departure time on your ticket, you may now have to pay extra expenses to find and stay in a hotel, thanks to Greyhound Canada’s new policy. If you are a student and don’t have the money for a hotel, well, that’s not Greyhound’s problem… rules are rules after all, huh? Humans used to run Greyhound Canada, but now, apparently the computer programmers, computers and accountants have taken over.
Here’s what you can now apparently expect when you go to a buy your ticket to a Greyhound Canada ticket agent. You can potentially expect new delays in the line-up with a new computerized system, that requires passengers to decide on exact departure times. For example, I had to wait 15 minutes for my ticket in Ottawa West, in a line-up of just three people at 7 am. I then missed the bus driven by a rather obnoxious driver who declared that he was not going to take any more passengers because I did not have a “7:20 ticket”. I then had to take an OC Transpo Bus ride to take another bus that was supposed to leave at 9:30 am, but did not leave until later. The Greyhound agent determined that even though I had arrived early, the number on my ticket now did not make me eligible to get the 9:30 bus, and that I needed to wait an extra 25 minutes for another bus. I ended up getting to Toronto over two hours late thanks to Greyhound Canada, and they could care less.
You can also potentially expect not-so-friendly ticket counter agents particularly in Toronto and Ottawa, and a customer service complaint system that will now forward you to an essentially public relations-oriented toll-free agent with heavy American accent. In the past, local customer service agents dealt with local problems.
Just before you actually get on the bus, rather than waiting in a normal line, you can now expect to be potentially herded into something looking like a human version of a cattle pen, as an obnoxious Greyhound agent counts off ticket numbers in a pretentious and obnoxious manner, in order to determine where you should be in the line-up.
In addition, if you are a Greyhound user and you are stopping at the Toronto Bay Street Bus Terminal, you also should totally avoid the washrooms there.
VIA stations and even the TTC including at the subway station at the very busy Bloor and Yonge interchange in downtown Toronto, are by far cleaner, proving that the public sector CAN do a better job than this private sector entity.
How does the new version of Greyhound Canada demonstrate that it is deserving of your hard earned money if this is the kind of treatment the passenger may now expect when using its service? Does the new version of Greyhound Canada still sound better than VIA Rail to you? This version of Greyhound Canada has upgraded its fleet of buses but it is still “no VIA Rail”, and the “new Greyhound Canada” has no excuse to have abandoned its former client services orientation.