TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – As John Glosser and his fiancée Jennifer Ferguson tell the story, when they took a bus trip to Pennsylvania to visit family, they were practically on their own with her wheelchair.
The couple rode four different buses from Buffalo to Harrisburg and back, and every one of the buses had wheelchair lifts, but only one of the four had a lift that worked, leading to a frustrating, humiliating bus trip from hell.
Ferguson has been battling multiple sclerosis since she was 18, and with little use of her legs she is now getting around in a wheelchair.
The Tonawanda couple booked a Greyhound bus trip to Harrisburg to visit Glosser’s son and grandchildren, last month, and Glosser said they made sure their reservation indicated they needed a wheelchair lift.
They boarded the first bus from Buffalo without a hitch, the lift worked, then they stopped in Scranton, PA. to change buses, which Glosser said required a transfer to a non-Greyhound bus, “When we got there with a transfer, the bus driver says, ‘my lift is not working, you should have called ahead’.”
Glosser said, it was like that the rest of the way to Harrisburg and back to Buffalo, every time they changed buses, he had to literally drag Jennifer by himself, “because her feet don’t move. So I would have to have her wrap around [me] and pull. Not trying to sound terrible, but I would have to almost drag her down the stairs, or up the stairs.”
Ferguson wears loose-fitting clothes for comfort and convenience, but Glosser said the maneuvering would lead to an embarrassing “wardrobe malfunction”. As he was dragging her onto the bus, “twice it happened–her pants fell down.”
On the return trip from Harrisburg, Glosser and Ferguson caught another non-Greyhound carrier, without a working wheelchair lift, and transferred to a Greyhound bus in Scranton, which to their surprise also lacked a working lift.
Taking a Greyhound bus trip was a humiliating experience Ferguson said she never wants to go through again, and it makes no difference whose bus it is, “There is no reason to go anywhere.” Would Jennifer take a bus trip anywhere beyond a local stop? “No.”
Todd Vaarwerk, spokesman for WNY Indepednent Living says Greyhound has a policy of putting the burden on its passengers to notify the connecting carriers of a wheelchair issue, as in John and Jennifer’s trip.
It is posted on Greyhound Lines’ website,“We strongly advise you to contact the non-Greyhound bus operator to make sure a lift bus is available before starting your trip.”
But Vaarwerk believes that has to change, “It is Greyhound’s responsibility to notify the subcontractors that a trip is required, not the customer’s responsibility. Because the customer does not know which company Greyhound is going to use to provide a ride, and how would they?”
Glosser and Ferguson have filed a complaint with Greyhound Lines, Inc. at the carrier’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Greyhound is responding.
According to Vaarwerk, if Greyhound’s response is not satisfactory, customers can escalate their complaint to a higher authority, the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Update from Greyhound Lines spokesperson: We looked into the matter and according to our records, the wheelchair lift malfunctioned on the Fullington Trailways bus, which is one of our interline partner carriers. The lift doesn’t appear to have malfunctioned on our bus. However, since the customer purchased her ticket on Greyhound.com, we would be happy to provide her a refund for her experience.