I started a Facebook group page called, "I Survived a Greyhound Bus Fire!" I hope anyone who finds this review who was on my bus or any other Greyhound bus that caught fire will join. We need to talk to each other.
At approximately 3AM on August 23, 2010, a Greyhound bus carrying 44 passengers from Columbus to Pittsburgh went up in flames within a couple of minutes after pulling over on I-70 in West Virginia and was completely destroyed. Luckily, all of the passengers escaped, but without their belongings. We all watched in horror as the bus was encased in a giant orange ball of flames just after we exited. As the bus driver stated, "Thank God there were no people on that bus who couldn't get off quickly!"
Everyone at the scene was great: the bus driver, the emergency response, and the DOT driver who drove our replacement school bus for the remainder of the trip. Here is the problem: Greyhound as a whole has been uncoordinated, unhelpful, and uncaring in the aftermath of what was a pretty traumatic event. The first clue was that the bus driver could not get anyone to answer the phone at the Pittsburgh station that was our destination for about 45 minutes. Then we were told that we would be getting information about what to do next once we reached the station. That did not happen. The lost-looking people at the station had a stack of complaint forms for us to fill out with a hand-written number on it for us to call for customer service. Each passenger individually has had to call the number, find out that there are forms to fill out, etc. Worse, the office personnel at the "main customer service" number in Dallas were unaware of the event until about 2 or 3 days afterward because other passengers had been calling with the same questions. For a week, no one could tell me where my stuff was or where the bus itself had been taken. Then I was told it was in Richmond, VA, but no ideas where it would go from there. Two weeks later, I haven't heard anything about whether any of my luggage was salvaged, because immediately after the fire, we had been told that some things may have been salvageable. In the meantime, there is no central contact to call, no central person on this case -- only people telling us to fill out forms at our local Greyhound station. We are entitled to $250 compensation and crappy treatment. It's a strange feeling, like being pushed out to sea in a tiny raft built for one.
There were tourists from abroad on that bus, people who have varying degrees of literacy in English, people who have varying degrees of tolerance for self-advocacy after a disturbing event. I cannot believe that in this day and age, in this country, that we don't have the expectation and the capacity to do what it takes to treat paying passengers well. For a primary interstate and international transportation service provider to have absolutely no emergency preparedness plan that I could detect during this incident is puzzling to say the least, and actually it's embarrassing and horrifying to have witnessed.
I believe that Greyhound has an obligation to make sure that there is an emergency plan in place, including a central case manager to oversee the process once an event is known to have occurred. Each passenger should be contacted to ensure that they have gotten the information and care they need. If passengers call, their questions should be answered by that central case manager. This isn't that hard to do.
I am pissed. I am a federal employee and I teach people with disabilities how to use public transportation. I cannot, at this point, feel confident telling people to take Greyhound. In fact, I feel obligated to actively discourage it on a large scale.
I appreciate having had this opportunity to share my story. Thank you.
Product or Service Mentioned: Greyhound Bus Service.