BoltBus didn’t get us to New York on time — can we get a refund?

If you follow me on Twitter you probably know that I was almost run off the New Jersey Turnpike by a passenger bus last week. But today’s case is the opposite problem: a bus that never left the station.

Christina Robertson and her husband had tickets on an early morning BoltBus from Philadelphia to New York a few weeks ago. But because of a race taking place that day, the motorcoach didn’t leave until 11:30 a.m. — three hours later than scheduled.

The Robertsons decided to take the train instead, and the BoltBus driver suggested they contact his company for a refund of the $24 nonrefundable fare.

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You can probably see where this one is going, can’t you?

“When I called BoltBus, I was told our two tickets were non-refundable, she says.

Robertson emailed Jim Austin, the BoltBus customer service contact, and received a more detailed explanation, and a denial. (I’ll get to the details in a minute.) She appealed in writing and by phone, but got nowhere. She says she was particularly dismayed that Austin’s voice mail greeting, which says he will not discuss customer issues by phone.

Undeterred, she took her case to a higher lever. She explains,

Because Bolt bus is owned by Greyhound, I wrote [Greyhound CEO] David Leach a certified letter, telling him about my situation.

I explained with $24 at stake it was a matter of principle, not finances. I told him that before I wrote to [the media] I wanted to give Bolt/Greyhound Bus a chance to do the right thing.

I have had no response.

Even though I realize the delay was not their fault, I am amazed that BoltBus and Greyhound would not value us as customers and issue us a credit or refund since we paid for something they were unable to deliver.

So what’s the BoltBus position on this refund? Here’s the detailed response I mentioned before:

We apologize for the disappointment you experienced when using our service.

We are unable to guarantee arrival and departure times. We try to maintain on-time departures and arrivals as best we can, unfortunately due to various circumstances (e.g. traffic, severe weather, road closures, mechanical issues etc.) our buses can experience delays.

I’m very sorry for any inconvenience that your schedule may have caused you, however in accordance with our ticketing policies, we are unable to issue compensation for delayed schedules. You can review our policy on the terms and conditions page of our website.

Except as responsibility may be imposed by law, BoltBus will not be liable for delays caused by accidents, breakdowns, road conditions, weather and other conditions beyond its control, and does not guarantee to arrive at or depart from any point as a specific time.

I would say “case closed” — except for one thing. One of Bolt’s drivers suggested to Robertson that her fare would be refunded, even if it was not refundable. Shouldn’t an employee’s word count for something?

At the very least, shouldn’t BoltBus offer her and her husband credit for the unused tickets?

As for me, I have no problem with bus travel or with BoltBus. Motorcoaches are a far more efficient way of getting around than a passenger car. If that bus had succeeded in knocking me off the road, I might feel differently about it …

105 thoughts on “BoltBus didn’t get us to New York on time — can we get a refund?

  1. I don’t agree with the OP in this case. Unfortunate that there was a delay, true, but if anyone could just get off the bus / train / plane because there was a delay (not caused by the provider) and expect to be refunded, that’d be unreasonable. The bus driver should’ve just kept his mouth shut… and the OP should’ve known better than to take customer service advice from a driver. Personally, don’t think they deserve a refund of any kind. If Bolt wanted to be nice, they could give them credit, but then that’s opening up a whole new can of worms. If I were them, I’d just say, “Case closed”.

  2. On one hand I think that they’re SOL, but on the other hand when I read, “But because of a race taking place that day, the motorcoach didn’t leave until 11:30 a.m.”  How far in advance did BoltBus know of this delay?  And, even if they did, does that mean they’re entitled to a refund on a non-refundable fare?  I lean towards the OP having to get over it.  I view non-refundable as “non-refundable.” 

    1. I agree. Races aren’t something scheduled a week in advance or even the day before. Also, if it is owned by Greyhound, they there is extensive scheduling experience here and they should have known that there would be an impact.

  3. If the delay was a surprise to BoltBus (e.g. they went to back the bus out of the garage and found they couldn’t because of a race taking place in the street) then I’d say there should be no refund.

    If on the other hand it was a planned schedule change, and BoltBus hadn’t made this clear to their passengers, I’d say the tickets should be refunded.

    Either way, it’s only $24 so not sure it’s really worth your time mediating it.

    1. This was something I was going to point out.  The race was scheduled ahead of time and BoltBus should have known about it and notified people at the time of booking.  The probably should have canceled that run knowing of the race.  This wasn’t some sort of unforeseen traffic problem.  In the denial, to me it sounds like they admit they are responsible…

      “Except as responsibility may be imposed by law, BoltBus will not be liable for delays caused by accidents, breakdowns, road conditions, weather and other conditions beyond its control, and does not guarantee to arrive at or depart from any point as a specific time.”

      This was not an accident, breakdown, road conditions, weather or other conditions beyond its control.  I’m sure the race was announced ahead of schedule so they had time to modify the schedule or notify passengers.

  4. This is a case closed. She should not get a refund. I’m not sure why this would be treated differently than a plane or train delay. If you were at the airport and the flight was delayed, I bet she wouldn’t leave to catch a train to her destination unless the flight was completely canceled.

    That being said, races are planned well in advance and the bus company should have known that and notified their customers that a delay was possible.

  5. “One of Bolt’s drivers suggested to Robertson that her fare would be refunded, even if it was not refundable.”

    This seems to be a recurring theme here.  The lesson again that travelers need to ask is, does this person have any authority to do what he is saying?  If not, then sorry to say, his word is not worth one red cent. 

    A couple weeks ago, the passengers listened to a ticket agent about a passport issue and weren’t able to complete their trip.  In this case, the consequences were much less severe, so it was worth asking. 

    But dare I ask – if they had no doubt upfront that the fare was nonrefundable, would they have taken the train anyway?

    1. Recurring theme too much. Maybe forgeting to hear or remember the all important word – MAY – as in you may call customer and you may request a refund. I doubt drivers or even telephone agents especialy those overseas guarantee refunds.

      Another point needed is for those who do not live in NY Metro Area, you need to be prepared for massive traffic problems when you visit here. Yesterday would have been a great example. They closed I95 once in the morning because a fatality in a collision incident and then again early evening because of floods in Norwalk. Meantime, the major repair on the GWB (bridge) has already started. We don’t need a marathon to cause a major delay. Yesterday’s thunderstorms closed some areas of Metro North. If the OP thinks trains are more reliable, he may in for a surprise. The Bolt and those Chinese buses are much cheaper and usually faster than AMTRAK in the northeast corridor.

  6. She should absolutely get a refund.  Schedules may not be guaranteed, but there is a point where delay is so long that the travel provider has simply not performed.

    How long must the OP wait at the bus station? 3 hours? 6 hours? 24 hours?  Refundable does not mean not refundable under any circumstances.

    1. They would have waited 3 hours.  They chose not to.  

      I have waited longer for a plane delayed for mechanical reasons where it turned out I could have driven to the destination faster (IAH to DFW).  I have also been delayed for a day or two on a few of my flights for various reasons.  In all of those cases I could have chosen to reach my destination by alternate means but did not and instead waited for the airlines to get me where I paid then to.  If I would have chosen to use an alternate airline, would the first have then been obligated to refund my non-refundable ticket?  Of course not. Sure, no one is happy when there is an extended delay, but things happen.

      If you buy any non-refundable travel item (air, bus, train, hotel, rental car etc.) and you choose not to use that item for whatever reason, it is not the company’s fault.  While Bolt Bus does not even offer refundable tickets, I feel the OP should not have been that impatient.

      1. Mechanical reasons and other unforeseen delays are an entirely different ball game than what seems to have happened in this case. Race closures are set up months in advance. If the OP bought the tickets prior to notification being sent out about the closures, it’d be unforeseen and the bus company would likely be off the hook.  But if the bus company continued to sell tickets knowing full well the trip couldn’t happen as scheduled, then that’s totally on them. Non-refundable policies don’t hold up when the company knows full well it can’t provide the service being sold.

      2. Your logic is lopsided.   You have placed all of the burdens on the traveler but few on the airline.

        If I purchase a non-refundable ticket I accept my responsibility to arrive at the airport/bus terminal with the proper travel documents, enough lead time to pass through security, proper identification, etc.  I have fulfilled my part of the contract.

        Under your proposal, I have to pay the difference between a cheaper non-refundable fare and a more expensive refundable fare, not to insure against my errors, but to insure against the travel providers failure to perform adequately.

        That hardly seems fair or equitable.

        I remember purchasing a nonrefundable ticket on American  to fly to LAX.  I missed my flight by a few minutes.  Everyone other AA flight to LA was booked solid.  It was my mistake so I took up my laptop and booked another flight on Virgin Airlines, which was next door.  My error, my problem, my solution.

    2. Based on what we recently read about Spirit (remember Atlantic City to Chicago or even the blind person’s fiasco in Houston), it could take a day maybe. Interstate Carriers seem to be given a lot of latitude by the Federal Gov’t.

  7. I think three hours is longer than the actual trip from NYC to Philadelphia. 

    Sounds like this trip should have been canceled and vouchers issued for another trip. 

    Passenger is being very reasonable – not asking to be reimbursed for the higher cost of the train or any time delay – just the tickets – and I bet would have accepted a voucher for another trip.

    This delay was beyond anyones control, but not beyond anyone’s knowledge.  There must have been several immovable buses and a very obvious delay at the station, the sort of thing management should be aware of.   I think Bolt bears responsibility for knowing this was happening in advance and needed to make alternative plans, which could include refunds or other accomodations.

  8. Don’t Mediate.  It’s a non-refundable ticket, and the terms clearly state that they do not guarantee departure or arrival times.  Why would the OP even waste their time sending certified mail over $24?  I know they said it’s the principal, but that’s just throwing good money after bad.  Why did the OP not take the train in the first place?  I would guess it’s because the bus is much cheaper.  As we see time and time again, the cheap comes out more expensive.  I gave up on busses years ago, I have never had one go on-time, and there is always traffic congestion.  If you don’t care about when you arrive, then take a bus.
    The race may have been scheduled in advance, and the OP and Bolt both should have been aware of that.  But as far as roads closing and preventing the bus from going, that may or may not have been known in advance.  Often times in these events roads that were not supposed to be closed get closed, even without proper permitting.  So pointing the finger saying Bolt should have known in advance is not entirely possible unless we know all of the details.  One of my friends has a store, and I was going to visit him last Friday.  He said there was an event nearby and some streets would close at 6pm, but his street would remain open.  I went at 2pm and some security guard on a power trip put a street closed sign on his street, and was not letting anyone down.  So it could be that Bolt knew, and was still able to depart on-time, and the race event planners changed things at the last minute.
    Also, I want to add that in my opinion, there is no way would a bus driver have apparent authority to refund a non-refundable ticket. 

  9. I do not think that you should mediate. From what I read the bus was delayed by three hours, not an uncommon travel occurence. I am assuming that the bus did leave at 11:30 a.m. A delay is not a reason for a refund(especially for a non-refundable ticket).

    I think that Chris needs a link to the definition of non-refundable on his site.

  10. I was in the middle on this one. Right up to the point the OP started threatening Greyhound with going to the press and lost me. Statements like that are too close to extortion for me.

    I really think the whole race issue is moot. If it’s reasonable that the bus company should have known about it, it’s also reasonable that the OP should have known (unless they are from out-of-town and based on their actions, I wouldn’t think so).

    The bus was delayed by an event outside their control. It isn’t clear from the article if there were extenuating circumstances surrounding the event (maybe there was a slow poke or a major accident) that made it run long. It also isn’t clear when the OP actually opted to take a train or their actions as they left.

    All things being equal, BoltBus is within its contract to hold the money (based on other quotes from her, I don’t see her going quietly).

    1. I don’t think we can fairly require the same level of knowledge from  the OP that we would require from a company who’s sole purpose is to transport people. Unless of course the race is like the Boston Marathon which everyone knows about.

  11. OK, the bus did leave eventually and apparently got to its destination.  It was 3 hours late but was not cancelled.  The OP chose to use the train instead of waiting.  Too bad, it’s her loss.

    If the bus had been cancelled instead of just delayed and the passengers were not re-accommodated, then I think a refund or at least a credit for a future ride would be required.  In this case, it was the OP who chose not to use the non-refundable ticket not the bus refusing to provide the service purchased.  If their travel plans were that tight and had no wiggle room for delays, they should have planned better, maybe taking the train in the first place.

  12. Think before you buy a nonrefundable ticket on any mode of transport.  If you cannot think, then look up the word nonrefundable on the internet and try again.

  13. When I read the headline, my immediate reaction was, “hey, buses break down and run into traffic like every other vehicle on the road.  this is beyond the control of the bus line.”  after reading that the bus never left the station until 3 hours after the scheduled departure time, i felt differently.  if the passenger wanted to leave 3 hours later, he/she could have booked a later departure.  Bolt should be more forgiving in this instance.

  14. The “case” seems to hinge on what a potentially-uninformed Boltbus employee suggested – that the ticketholder may contact Customer Service for a refund. Suggested does not equal guaranteed. The Terms of Service make it clear that times are not guaranteed.

  15. 100% Scam and Illegal!  They are being forced to pay for a service they never received.  Even if it’s non-refundable, they did not use the service, so Bolt has no right to keep their money.

        1. Even if the business already spent costs providing that service like salaries, rent, etc.? There are some, believe it or not.

          Not that some people like you probably care about, though.


      1. Umm, guys, you DO know that poster is either a troll or a caricature, don’t you?  Go back and read his other posts – starting appearing about a week ago.

        1. Excuse my naiveté, but what is a caricature (other than those funny drawings)? I wonder if it’s the same guy who always says “If I pay in cash, I should get refunded in cash.” On non-refundable tickets. He seemed to disappear recently.

          1. It’s also a literary device – think any Dickensian bad guy.  Generally a quality or quirk or trait taken to an extreme, in order to make some sort of point. 

            Who was it that on this site that wanted to invent troll spray? 

      2. Money is exchanged for a service.  It must benefit both sides.  A one sided contract is not legal.  In this case the customer paid, and got nothing in return. That is illegal.

          1. Don’t waste your breath!  He’s a nut job who thinks its all a big conspiracy to take the OPs money – regardless of whether or not THEY are wrong.  Like in this case – why talk to a driver, and NOT to the front desk at the bus depot?  DUH!

        1. A one sided contract is not legal.

          Heh, search online hard enough and you’ll find many essentially one-sided contracts nonetheless upheld while a few others are nulled. It depends on the situation, though.


  16. Ask your mail man if you can get a refund for the delayed letter you sent.
    He may tell you sure thing.
    Mean’s nothing just as the bus driver said you can get a refund.

  17. “I realize the delay was not their fault”.

    Then why are you asking them for a refund?
    They aren’t responsible for something that isn’t their fault.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you ask BoltBus for a refund for your last airplane delay, cruise-ship that missed a port of call, and hotel that lost your reservation.  Those things were all also “not their fault”.

    1.  Its a misconception that fault is required for a breach of contract.  It is not.  A failure to perform is sufficient .  If I hire you to cater my event, and through no fault of your own, you never show up. Do you think you are entitled to get paid. Of course not.

  18. As many have pointed out, races are planned far in advance.  Greyhound knew about this and chose to ignore telling their pax…or their own employees were incompetent and didn’t keep track of local events that would impact operations.  How many times has Greyhound declared Chapter 11 over its history, 3 or 4?  How many times have they moved their HQ…Hibbing to Chicago to Phoenix to Dallas to Cincinnati…and now part of First Group of Aberdeen,Scotland.  Seems like $24 is going to break their bank, so is Chapter 11 for the fifth time around the corner?

  19. I said no you shouldn’t mediate – not because there’s no merit in the case, but because a company who acts like this deserves the bad publicity and the article perpetually showing that they didn’t make this right.

    This was not a delay, this appears to be an intentional “not leaving”. Three hours is not a bus being delayed. It’s a rescheduling. A delay is when a bus is stuck in traffic for three hours.

    The embarrassment factor should have been worth $24 to this company.

  20. Nothing to mediate. It’s something the Bus Co had no control over.  I work in Phila and races are fairly frequent.  These are usually benefits for major non-profits and involve hundreds or thousands of participants. Certain Streets and the bridge from Center City in Phila to NJ is closed as that is part of the running course.  If the OP lives in Phila (where they are getting the Bolt bus) she should have done some pre-checking as to what was scheduled in Philly for that day. No reason for them to have waited 3 hours.  These events are in the newspapers and on the news radio stations. BTW the train station is across the street from the Bolt Bus stop.  Their ticket was non refundable. (period)

    1. Why would it be the passenger’s job to check what streets might be closed on a particular day?  Closures are announced months ahead of time. It’s the bus company’s job to know what routes are being impacted and work out things accordingly. If they knew this trip couldn’t possibly go off as scheduled, they shouldn’t have been selling tickets for it.  

      1. Of course, you don’t take into account the last minute schedule changes these may incur – if that is what happened, they had no control over it anyway.  But WHY talk to a bus driver and follow up AFTERWARDS, when they should have just went to the front desk at the bus depot to talk to someone??? 

  21. The driver suggested that they ask for refund. Why would they think that a driver can modify the terms of the contract? Interestingly none of the excuses the company gave apply here, no claims of weather r traffic, etc. but it’s. BUS service. I’ve never known intercity buses to operate on anything other than a suggested schedule. . .

    1. Why couldn’t a driver modify it?  After all, he’s an agent of the company.  He says they’ll refund it, they should refund it.  I hope they paid by credit card.  It’s just be a simple dispute.  If my credit card company wouldn’t stand with me for $24, they wouldn’t be in my wallet. 

      1. I doubt that the driver could be considered an agent of the company, at least not in the sense that he has legal authority to make customer service decisions.

      2. A driver is an employee of the company, not an agent who has the authority to enter into contract with someone.  The driver would not even pass the apparent authority test.   Besides, the driver didn’t even do anything other than suggest they ask for a refund, or say they might be able to get one.  That in no way states they are getting a refund.  If they met with a Customer Service Agent inside the station who stated in writing that they would receive a refund, that employee would have apparent authority, and the company would be bound by the decision.

        1. A driver is not necessarily an employee of the bus company. The bus company can contract out the driving to another company.  While the driver may be wearing a Greyhoud/Bolt uniform, that does not mean they work directly for them.  I have seen this with the local bus service.  Not sure how often it occurs on interstate lines though.

      3. The bus driver is merely an employee of the company. An agent is someone who has the power, whether actual or speak on behalf of the principal.  Agents generally fall into two categories, specially empowered folks such as sales agents, or generally empowered people such as corporate officers.

    2. It’s been a while since my student days when I regularly traveled by bus, but my recollection is that unused tickets could always be applied to another trip within a generous period of time (maybe 6 months or 1 year).

      When I check the main site (and other companies’ sites), I see that many tickets are still generally unrestricted just like I remember.  But Bolt is a relatively new low-price alternative with airline-like restrictions.

      1. Be careful. Read
        An advance purchase fare may be upgraded to a walk-up fare for a charge of $15 per transaction plus the difference between the advance purchase fare and the walk-up fare. If the walk-up fare is less than the advance purchase fare, no refund will be given. The origin and/or destination may NOT be changed in an upgrade.
        Advance purchase discount fares are non-refundable.

        1.  so they don’t let you get off early?  I mean there are $5 and $10 bus services between NYC and BOS that stop in Hartford to pick up pax. . . .the fare to Hartford is $25 – so you buy the ticket to Bos or NYC for cash, and get off at the Hartford stop and never get back on – all they do is check for tickets not that the same people got back on . . . .  its amazing the silliness in pricing. 

          1. I think you are referring to Chinese buses ???
            Those are another breed of cheapness 🙂
            Also they stop in Chinatowns (and sometimes casinos) which might be a preference for some people.

  22. I’ve traveled by a similar bus service, Megabus.  It’s made very clear when you book that they’re not responsible for delays and the fare is non refundable.  The employee suggested they try to obtain a refund, this is not the same as promising one.

    Leave this one be.

  23. Completely disagree with BoltBus.  They may disclaim refunds in the cases they describe, and within reason it makes sense, such as traffic or road closures while on route, etc.  But when they’re unable to fulfill their obligations at all, such a disclaimer no longer applies.  This sounds like opinion, and it may be to some extent, but it’s a fact that expressed warranties can never be disclaimed (in this case they warrant to get on the road and get the passenger to the other end in a reasonable amount of time).

  24. Chris, I think that the value that you add as a mediator is to help
    consumers who don’t know how best to advocate for themselves. Robertson
    has done all of the right things, and has received a firm denial. There
    is nothing further for you to do here.

    If you do decide to mediate, I predict that BoltBus will counsel you to
    go pound the exact same patch of sand that they previously advised
    Robertson to go pound. 

  25. It boggles me that a company can basically say “Yes, we took your money and provided nothing in return.  No, we’re not going to give it back.” 

    How long should a customer wait for a company to make good on delivering a service before they go elsewhere?  A three hour delay would
    waste a huge chunk of a vacation day or cause someone to miss a flight.  In this case the customers aren’t asking for unreasonable compensation so I’m firmly on their side here.

    Oh, and the comment “Except as responsibility may be imposed by law”… where does one find out if that applies?

    1. But if the OP had stayed on the bus, the company would have provided the trip. The bus was delayed not cancelled. They chose to leave the bus.

  26. The company had to have known there was going to be a delay – as in hour after hour –  and therefore should have informed their passengers and offered a refund or a credit at that time for those that chose to leave the bus to find alternative transportation.

  27. Bull,  you all think the Boston Marathon is not scheduled a year inadvance? Greyhound knows when the race is going to take place.  a 3 hour delay for a road race is BS on Greyhound’s part. The EMT needs to use those street too. Did the entire city close for the morning?

  28. This may well be an unenforceable contract based on an illusory promise by Greyhound Lines, Inc. Christina Robertson and her husband may want to go to small claims court.

    The Boltbus website states, as part of its terms and conditions, “The following rules apply to all BoltBus travel. These rules may be
    changed at any time at our sole discretion without prior notice.” In Harris v. Blockbuster Inc., 622 F. Supp.2d 396 (N.D. Tex. 2009), the federal district court held that an online contract which permitted one party to unilaterally make any changes to it without notice rendered it an illusory promise which made the contract unenforceable. The same might be true with the Boltbus terms and conditions.

    1. There were a lot of Metro North schedule disruptions yesterday from/to Connecticut. Should we sue them? Furthermore, aren’t most of these interstate carriers under some kind of Federal rules that pre-empt State regs.

      1.  Well, with Metro-North there is a tariff that obligates both the carrier and the passenger. The Metro-North tariff does not say, “We can change whatever we like, not provide transportation if we don’t feel like it, and keep your money nonetheless.” The purpose of a tariff (or contracts in general) is to outline the mutual obligations of each party at the time the contract is entered into. When Metro-North sells a ticket to a passenger, it enters into a contract with that passenger, and obligates itself to perform certain functions (e.g., transport the passenger between the points named on the ticket), and for Metro-North’s failure to do so, it may be sued. Here, Greyhound Lines appears not to have entered into any obligation. It can choose to change its terms and conditions at will, perhaps even to the point of refusing to transport the passenger.

        (An interesting tangent concerns some public transportation systems that sell tickets or tokens, and then some time after purchase, unilaterally attempt to change the conditions upon which the tickets or tokens were purchased, e.g., causing the tickets or tokens to “expire” prematurely. Probably unenforceable as well, but few people will try to sue because the cost of litigation is greater than the value of the ticket or token.)

        Since deregulation in 1982, buses transporting passengers in interstate commerce cannot be regulated economically by states and localities (other than for safety and insurance). But this is probably not a case where the state is seeking to regulate the business. Rather, it is a case between two parties and the determination of whether a contract has been entered into. Contract law is state law, not federal law. And indeed, that is an issue here. The Harris case was decided using Texas law. While contract law in Pennsylvania (or New York) might well be the same, it is possible that the law might be different.

        My own experience with Greyhound Lines is that the company expects many passengers to complain, but that most of their passengers are of such economic means that few have any other transportation choices and that few will sue. When I’ve had things go awry at Greyhound Lines, the company will not respond unless it is sued (in which case the mere filing of the lawsuit brought a response from the company and a settlement).

        1. The bottom line is the [interstate] bus line will get you there WHENEVER [it can].. So unless it ceases operations, I am not sure you can get your money back for a delay.

          1. Unless I’m missing something, Greyhound Lines has absolutely no obligations under the “contract” between the company and the passenger. If Greyhound Lines has undertaken no obligations, it will have then failed to provide consideration, and under principles of contract law, there simply is no contract.

            Where I think some confusion may lie is that most tariffs specifically state that schedules are not part of the contract, but the carrier remains obligated otherwise (and in particular, to transport the passenger between the named points); for that reason, you’re explanation is *usually* valid. Here, however, the “contract” specifically disclaims *all* of the terms, not merely timeliness of travel but even the travel itself. For that reason, it is possible that no contract has been entered into.


            Reads very much like a cheap airline’s COC.

          3.  The main tariff for Greyhound Lines (other than Boltbus) does not even have a link from the consumer site. To see that tariff, go to (for Greyhound Lines, Inc.) or (for Greyhound Canada Transportation Corp.). Meanwhile, Amtrak has their tariff accessible from its home page, (click on “Terms of Transportation”), but is so lacking in being definitive that it is difficult to believe that this is the actual, legal, and binding tariff.

          4. They don’t have to file tariff, correct? All they need to do is post the fares and the rules online (if they sell online) and on the bus depots or service locations. That is how I interpret the rules for interstate buses. Rail rules are different IMO.

          5. I believe the tariff filing requirements have all been repealed, though there remain regulations that refer to the tariff (e.g., “Each carrier shall
            refund unused tickets upon request,
            consistent with its governing tariff, at
            each place where tickets are sold, within
            30 days after the request.” 49 C.F.R. § 374.305(d)).

          6.  Yes I did post that section the other day.
            The posted fare rules (T&Cs) is part of the tariff so the non-refund-ability clause rules.

      2.  [The columns were getting too narrow to directly reply to the prior post.]

        The “terms and conditions” apply if those terms and conditions are in fact enforceable. If the terms and conditions are insufficient to constitute a contract as a matter of law, then the terms and conditions may not be enforceable. The terms and conditions of Boltbus are, arguably (such argument being supported by the Harris case), insufficient to form a contract, and if that is the case, then those terms and conditions might not be enforceable.

        1. Ok LFH0, who will decide if there is a contract or not?
          I just want to be practical. For $25 who is going to bother? Most people actually get to their destination on Boltbus. Considering that many of the Chinese branded buses have been shut down by the DOT, then Boltbus is actually doing a fine service. Who are you and me to say otherwise?

          1.  Ultimately, when there is a dispute as to what the facts and/or law are, courts resolve those disputes. That what let to Blockbuster losing its case, and my experience with Greyhound Lines is that the company will not back down unless it, too, is sued. But given fares on the order of magnitude of $25, few people will sue, and more time (and possibly money) would be spent suing Greyhound Lines than the value of the potential recovery to the plaintiff; only someone seeking vindication for a principle will pursue individual redress. And that’s what Greyhound Lines relies upon . . . that few people will actually sue, and therefore it can do what it wants with relative impunity.

            (In my opinion, Boltbus does a good job in large part because it is a joint venture with Peter Pan Bus Lines, and Peter Pan does a very good job.)

          2. The real theme here is since these bus services serve the poorer strata of society, then nobody in power could care less. They had a little show when some Chinese folks died in I95 near the Westchester- NYC border. Peter Pan is a mainstay in CT, but I have seen one burning in I91 so they are not perfect either.

  29. so the employee suggested it. he did not guarantee it, correct?  he made a suggestion that they may try, and they did so, and they were denied. there was no promise of anything there.

    i often give suggestions about contacting my airline regarding credits for non-refundable flights.  i know that sometimes circumstances are considered, and their request may be granted.  never do i say that the airline WILL give a refund. i, like, the driver, simply suggest the customer write in/call for refund consideration. my main theory is, “ya never know!”

    now, the bus DID leave. they chose to get off. case closed.

  30. There was a delay, but the delay was due to a race, that the local Bolt representatives should have been aware of and buses not scheduled. nor tickets sold for that day/time till the road closures due to the race were over.  All of this was known ahead of time, they essentially sold a service they had no way of providing, and therefore should not have sold…

  31. Buses can’t be expected to account for unusual traffic conditions enroute, but if a bus cannot leave its point of origin, it’s the company’s fault. If this guy doesn’t get a refund, then Bolt deserves a stiff dose of Internet shaming.

    1. So if there is an auto accident blocking the exit to the bus depot, it’s the bus company’s fault they can’t leave?  Or some shmuck parks in front of the exit and leaves and it take 2 hours to get a tow truck, it’s also the bus company’s fault? 
      Or let’s say some small random group of volunteers for a small fund raiser shows up, puts up barricades and signs for a race route, but never filed a right-of-way permit with the city or notified anyone of the race other than participants, or they just put the barricades on the wrong street by accident.  Either way, it took a few hours to get things straightened out and get the barricade moved, is that also the bus company fault?

      1. Refund for spontaneous closers like accidents- No.   Refund for a SCHEDULED race- Yes.   I have lived all over this country and all the races and road closure have been publicized.  Just like a trucking company has to know the weight limit of a road, a bus system should keep up to date with detours.   It should not be the patron’s responsibility or “tough luck” for management ignorance.

  32. Chris, perhaps you could get more info on the race.  Was this a big race, like the Boston marathon as someone points out?  Or a little race?  And how did the race delay things? The only race I can find on-line that happened in the last few weeks was a small race, the race started about 1 mile from the greyhound station, but the path is no longer displayed, but from the pictures it looks like it was mostly along the water.  Perhaps an incident happened at the race?  Perhaps there was an accident?  Who knows?  But many of these smaller races are not published to business, and it’s likely the bus company would not have even known about it.

  33. I would suggest mediating, but only for credit to take the bus again. I’m guessing that would make them feel far less entrenched, especially if it effectively doesn’t cost them anything unless they rebook on a full bus where they take a spot from otherwise paying passengers.

  34. If you were in Europe, you would have MORE rights as of 1 March 2013

    The new rights applicable to long distance services (i.e. of more than 250 km) include, amongst others:

    adequate assistance (snacks, meals and refreshments as well as, if necessary, up to two nights’ hotel accommodation, for a total amount of € 80 per night, except in case of severe weather conditions and major natural disasters) in situations of cancellation or following a delay of more than 90 minutes in the case of a journey of more than three hours;

    guarantee of reimbursement or rerouting in situations of overbooking or in case of cancellation or following a delay of more than 120 minutes from the estimated time of departure;

    compensation of 50 % of the ticket price following more than 120 minutes’ delay from the estimated time of departure, cancellation of a journey and if the carrier fails to offer the passenger either rerouting or reimbursement;

    information when the service is cancelled or delayed in departure;

    protection of passengers in case of death, injury, loss or damage caused by road accidents, particularly with regard to immediate practical needs in case of accident (including up to two nights’ hotel accommodation, for a total amount of € 80 per night);

    specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at terminals and on board and, where necessary, transport free of charge for accompanying people.
    Read about EU181/2011 here.

    1. I was on a bus tour in Italy about 10 years ago and we got stuck for 6 hours on a major highway.  Turned out an oversized vehicle had damaged an overpass a few kilometers ahead of us. 

      It was a hot day and a mostly forgettable ordeal, except that I was super-impressed that within a couple of hours, police motorcycles were running up and down the shoulders of the highway handing out bottles of cold water to motorists (including enough for everyone on our bus).

      I’m doubtful that too many places in the U.S. are prepared to respond like that.

  35. I think that the people made and paid a non-refundable ticket for a trip departing at a certain time. The trip did not depart at that time. If the contract does not mention departure time, than maybe they do not have a case, but if there is somewhere on the ticket that mentions departure time,then they are due a credit or a refund. In other words they paid for a ticket that specifies departure time. If no departure time is specified than there is no contract for departure time. If the bus departed and then went one block and stopped,because of traffic then the company honored their contract.

  36. Even airlines give you a refund on a non-refundable ticket when your flight is delayed enough that their re-booking doesn’t accommodate your schedule.

    1. Only if the flight is cancelled not severly delayed (unless their are connection issues which don’t pertain to this issue). The bus still left and reached its destination. Airline’s won’t refund if you get upset over a delay and take the train instead.

  37. In the USA, for interstate bus service, here is the rule [law] that applies :

    Subpart C – Adequacy of intercity motor common carrier passenger service

    § 374.305 Ticketing and information. (a) Information service.
    (1) During business hours at each terminal or station, information shall be provided as to schedules, tickets, fares, baggage, and other carrier services.
     (2) Carrier agents and personnel who sell or offer to sell tickets, or who
    provide information concerning tickets and carrier services, shall be
    competent and adequately informed.
    (b) Telephone information service. Every facility where tickets are sold shall provide telephonic information to the traveling public, including current bus schedules and fare information, when open for ticket sales.
    (c) Schedules. Printed, regular-route schedules shall be provided to the traveling public at all facilities where tickets for such services are sold. Each schedule shall show the points along the carrier’s route(s) where
    facilities are located or where the bus trips originate or terminate, and each schedule shall indicate the arrival or departure time for each such point.
    (d) Ticket refunds. Each carrier shall refund unused tickets upon request, consistent with its governing tariff, at each place where tickets are sold, within 30 days after the request.
    (e) Announcements. No scheduled bus (except in commuter service) shall depart from a terminal or station until a public announcement of the departure and boarding point has been given. The announcement shall be given at least 5 minutes before the initial departure and before departures from points where the bus is scheduled to stop for more than 5 minutes.

    § 374.311Service responsibility.
    a) Schedules. Carriers shall establish schedules that can be reasonably met, including connections at junction points, to serve adequately all points.
    (b) Continuity of service. No carrier shall change an existing regular-route schedule without first displaying conspicuously a notice in each facility and on each bus affected. Such notice shall be displayed for a reasonable time before it becomes effective and shall contain the carrier’s name, a description of the proposed schedule change, the effective date thereof, the reasons for the change, the availability of alternate service, and the name and address of the carrier representative passengers may contact.
    (c) Trip interruptions. A carrier shall mitigate, to the extent possible, any passenger inconvenience it causes by disrupting travel plans.
    (d) Seating and reservations. A carrier shall provide sufficient buses to meet passengers’ normal travel demands, including ordinary weekend and usual seasonal or holiday demand. Passengers (except commuters) shall be guaranteed, to the extent possible, passage and seating.
    (e) Inspection of rest stops. Each carrier shall inspect periodically all rest stops it uses to ensure that they are clean.

    Did the bus line violate any of the above? No refunds in terms and conditions  is consistent with its governing tariff. Goodbye $24. Move on.

  38. The OP deserve a refund.  The delay was caused by a race, a probably heavily announced race. I have lived all across this country and every place will anounce road closures well in advance. The bus company KNEW they would be departing late and should have informed guest.    If they didn’t that is their own bad management.   Had this been an accident or weather I would say “tough luck” but that is not the case.   The company was offering false advertising for this drive.    They had to of known the AM departure of this bus would not happen.   Doesn’t matter if it is $24 dollars for financial reasons or not… who cares.   Frankly, it makes someone sound insecure that they say that.

  39. Here I’m an expert.  I’ve used the Bolt Bus many times between New York City and Philadelphia.  I’ve paid as little as $1.00 because I made reservations early.  It sure beats driving.  What does the writer expect?  When I drive I never know what delays will happen; traffic in and around two major cities and a turnpike that is undergoing extensive expansions. 

    I’ve been delayed, as most of you have, on all forms of transportation.  It’s a way of life.  As Steinbeck said in Mice & Men, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

    1. $1 means you are FIRST reservation. You sure book early.
      How early do you have to do this to get the $1 fare?

  40. Based on the salient facts, the chances of the OP securing a refund are dim.  I would recommend mediation, if only to obtain Greyhound’s response for the guidance of their PAX in the future.
    Although the bus company is not liable for delays that are outside of their control, if they had knowledge in advance that due to street closures their bus would not have been able to leave the terminal on schedule, they had no business selling these tickets or only selling them with a caution to prospective pax.  Can the OP find data to support a claim that the bus company knowingly sold tickets for a departure time they knew they could not honor?  If so, her chances of securing a refund would improve considerably.
    It is not reasonable to assume that in giving the false information to the PAX that the bus driver was acting within the scope of his job description.  It is also not reasonable to assume that in so doing the driver has the power to bind the company.   It would have been different if this assurance had been given by a customs service agent and that the OP has proof of such a statement having been made in her possession.  What we are left with is that the OP became impatient, decided not to wait for the bus to leave and of her own volition abandoned her bus tickets and took the train instead.

  41. She should have resolved her refund issue before taking the train.  Probably the Bolt Bus contract was to get her to New York, not at any particular hour.

  42. Offer and acceptance. Basic contract law. Driver is an agent of the company. He offered a refund on behalf of BoltBus due to the delay and circumstances, customer accepted by leaving the bus and arranging alternate transportation. I think a small claims judge would rule for the customer in this instance.

    1. Offer and acceptance. Basic contract law.

      Don’t forget intention to create legal relations and consideration.


  43. I would say maybe give them something because the bus company should have known the race was occurring. These races/walks in DC are a frequent problem in the spring, summer, and fall. The maps for the races are published ahead of time. They make the lives of people trying to get around the main part of downtown dc a nightmare. Especially when you can’t leave work until your replacement shows up and they can’t get to work because all of the streets are closed.(yes this happened several times when I was working weekends in DC)

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