On June 3, 2022, approximately 3:45 PM, I received a call from, Frank and Rita Duca, who were left stranded in Barstow, California by the FlixBus driver. They departed Riverside, CA at 12:30 the same day and arrived at the Barstow Bus Station at 3:00 PM, where all passengers were let off for a 30 minute rest stop. When my friends returned to the bus it was already gone. They could not have been more than a minute or two late, if they were late at all.
The driver did not ask everyone to synchronize their watches before leaving Riverside, and should have allowed for a several minute buffer, especially since she had to have known that Frank and Rita were not yet on the bus. Frank is 96 years old, a WWII veteran who can barely walk. His wife, Rita, is 90. They were the oldest passengers on the bus. Frank had even stopped to complement the driver before getting off.
Their son, who saw them off in Riverside, made a point of asking the driver to please look after his mother and father. She responded by lacing every sentence she uttered with a four letter word. I’m sure her response did not inspire confidence. Rita would later overhear the driver tell another passenger that she was in a lot of pain. She obviously could not walk without a cane; leaving one to wonder why she was even driving that day. Should she have been?
When their son, Phil, learned they were left behind in Barstow he called to talk to a FlixBus agent to see if another bus would be able to pick them up to complete the trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, and arrange for their luggage to be returned; which, he noted, contained all of their needed medications. The agent coldly told him there was nothing he could do; that it was the passenger’s responsibility to be on the bus at the scheduled departure time, not the driver’s.
When Rita called to tell me what had happened, I told her not to worry, that my wife and I would drive down from Las Vegas to pick them up…to wait for us in the Bus Station. It is more than a 300 mile round trip journey, but we were not going to let our friends spend a night in a strange town without their luggage. We got back to Las Vegas about 9PM that evening.
As one of the most innovative, fastest growing, most successful transportation companies in the world today, I know you and your co-founders take pride in all you have accomplished, and look forward to even further growth in the future. You also recognize the importance of having good, motivated people to make that happen, especially at that level in the company in closest contact with the customer, your drivers.
Had your driver waited just a few minutes longer; indeed, had she insured all passengers were aboard before leaving, as any responsible driver would, particularly when elderly passengers are involved, my friends would not have been put through an unnecessary ordeal, and there would have been no need to trouble you with this letter.
A Lost and Found report was submitted the following day on the company website, but, as of this time, Frank and Rita have not heard from anyone at FlixBus regarding their luggage. A word from you would doubt move things along a bit faster.
P.S. I too talked to one of your agents about the lost luggage and, unlike the insensitive response Phil received, the young lady I spoke to could not have been more sympathetic, or helpful. Her name is Jonyetta (not sure of the spelling).
The Security Officers at the Barstow Bus Station also took good care of my friends until my wife and I could get there.
The booking number for Frank and Rita is: 301 213 5822