Medical bus service fails passenger

My husband found himself standing on a Vancouver street corner only to find out the medical bus would not arrive...

Northern Health runs a bus service to help those with limited transportation get to medical appointments.

Dear Sir:

Over the holidays my husband required emergency eye surgery at Vancouver General Hospital. He was cleared for travel but not allowed to fly.

I checked the online schedule for the Northern Health Authority’s medical health bus and was able to book him on the 8 a.m. bus leaving Jan. 2, 2016 from Vancouver to Prince George and on to Terrace.

Although a one way ticket was all he needed, l ended up booking a return ticket Dec. 31, 2015 because the number listed on the website for one way travel booking kept me on hold for almost an hour without anyone answering or taking a message.

The morning my husband was to leave he found himself waiting in vain for 45 minutes at the scheduled departure point for the bus which is the Best Western Hotel in Vancouver.

Nobody knew any details about the bus service at the hotel, nobody answered the phone (again) at Diversified Transportations which operates the medical transport bus.

He had a valid ticket, confirmation number, and the VISA card bill showing a payment of $80 – all for a ghost bus!

What does one do in such a situation, on his own and two days out from surgery on both eyes?

He was then forced to take another taxi to the main bus station and sit around for 12 hours waiting for the Greyhound bus to leave Vancouver at 9:30 pm!

He had already stayed an additional night at the hotel in order to take what he assumed would be the medical transport bus back to Terrace.

More and more expenses adding up to nothing.

Is this the kind of service Diversified Transportation can get away with?

Why was the online booking service not adjusted for the holiday schedule?

How can the company take money for a bus service that does not exist?

This is not only bad service, it is also illegal. Moreover, this disrespectful treatment of its passengers jeopardizes the health of patients who need to rely on the medical bus to get them to the hospital and back home.

How dare he require medical attention at a time when Diversified Transportation  decides to go on holiday – without updating its booking system or leaving at least an informative message on its phone system.

I have since spoken twice with a Diversified Transportation manager and the company has a agreed to refund the Greyhound ticket price and for one of the nights my husband had to spend in a hotel in Vancouver.

I also understand the Northern Health Authority now says there was a “glitch” in the system by which it communicates patient travel information and it is correcting this.

That aside, there remains a communications gap between Vancouver General Hospital, Mills Memorial Hospital, the Northern Health Authority and Diversified about the impact of any reduction of transportation services over the Christmas break.

Diversified now says it is taking steps to fix that gap and it has since printed new pamphlets containing up to date information but I do wonder why that is happening only now.

Why did it take place only after my husband found himself standing on a Vancouver street corner only to find out the medical transport bus would not arrive?

Clearly, Diversified and the Northern Health Authority need to do better so that this does not happen again.

Sabina Lautensach,

Terrace, B.C.