Passenger seeks refund over bus drivers’ ‘dangerous driving’; company says they weren’t speeding

2014-11-18 00:00

that he forked out to fly back to the mother city rather than using his return ticket.

Bolton (63) said he had cancelled his return trip two days before travelling home because of an apparently hair-raising trip to Durban.

“On one occasion, the driver was trying to pass a minibus taxi and decided, on a long downhill, to overtake the mini-bus. The barrier line was double solid, with staggered lines inside, meaning ‘no passing’, but the driver just travelled on the wrong side, for about half a kilometre, and hooted at the minibus to slow down,” Bolton said.

“He was going over 100 km per hour. This is very dangerous,” Bolton said. “I was frightened and at one stage, didn’t think we would complete this journey.”

Bolton claimed the driver had stopped the bus repeatedly to “bang back” the driver’s loose left hand mirror, which kept folding outwards.

“The main door and also emergency door had jammed shut, and someone outside had to kick it open. This happened about three times in a period of about two hours,” he said.

Bolton said the windscreen wiper had also “played up” and the bus waited over an hour for a mechanic to fix it. “Later on, the wiper still played up,” Bolton said.

Bolton said the driver had also eaten a packet of “slap” chips while driving.

“It’s because of all of these problems and dangerous driving conditions that I did not want to travel back by bus,” Bolton said.

Bolton approached Greyhound/Citi­liner for a partial refund to compensate him for his “stress and fears”.

Greyhound/Citiliner’s Karabo Kock responded swiftly, promised to investigate and while acknowledging that there had been defects and repairs to the bus, he ignored the issue of a refund.

“We do regret that you were exposed to this unfavourable experience. Please note: Greyhound/Citiliner does not condone speeding and any driver found guilty of either speeding, horse-play or irregular driving patterns will be sanctioned and disciplined,” he said. “A speeding report will be obtained from our 24-hour satellite tracking department to determine the speed that was conducted for the duration of the trip.”

However, Bolton was unimpressed and claimed that the bus driver had told him that the speed tracker was not working on the bus.

When I raised the complaint with Greyhound/Citiliner’s customer care manager Juan-Pierre du Buisson, he said the bus’s tracking unit and “state of the art” DriveCam technology was fully operational.

He said speeding would “immediately trigger an alarm” via the tracking unit and the crew would be contacted to slow down, while the DriveCam recorded irregular driving patterns or harsh braking.

“At no point during the journey was any speeding reported or recorded … Drivers are professionally trained and will only overtake when deemed safe enough to do so,” he said.

Du Buisson said that the DriveCam had not picked up any driving incidents and there was no evidence of a defective mirror, although he acknowledged that a faulty windscreen wiper had been repaired. “Unfortunately, the tracking unit is dependent on signal, similar to a mobile device. The unit may lose signal for brief periods, especially in mountainous areas,” he said.

Du Buisson added that eating while driving was not permitted, although it was not possible to track behaviour.

However, he said both drivers had been “identified and sanctioned”.

“Greyhound has in light of the complaint and allegations, proposed and recommended refresher training for all the drivers in question,” he said.

“Passenger safety remains paramount and non-negotiable. We are proud of our safety record and this remains one of our core values,” he said.

Du Buisson agreed to refund Bolton for the return leg of the journey as “a gesture of goodwill”. However, Bolton was adamant that he would not be using the bus service again if he could help it.

• Send your consumer issues or problems to consumer@3i.co.za

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