Via passengers ride buses from Toronto to Windsor

Some Via Rail passengers heading home or back to school in Windsor this Thanksgiving weekend were surprised when they were give a bus ticket, instead.

Several trains were affected by planned work on rail infrastructure between Toronto and London.

Via notified its passengers on its website of the longer bus rides but several showed up not knowing of the change, which added, in some cases, an hour to the commute from Toronto to Windsor.

On the holiday Monday, seven trains were entirely replaced by bus service. Others were rerouted or delayed.

Some passengers told CBC News they elected to rent a car to drive to Windsor rather than bus.

Three weeks ago, University of Windsor student Dylan Lamovsek paid $80 for his one-way $80 ticket from Toronto to Windsor.

He said he was surprised to learn he would be taking a bus, not a train, from Toronto to Windsor.

“I never received an email phone call or message notifying him of the change. It was news to me,” he said. “I got to the station and they’re like ‘guess what? You’re going on a bus now.’”

Lamovsek said he prefers to travel by train because it’s faster, has WiFi and ports for his computer.

“That’s why you pay more money for a train,” Lamovsek said. “Now I’m paying the same amount for a bus, which has none of that.”

He arrived in Windsor about an hour later than originally scheduled.

Several riders took to the social media site Twitter to vent their frustrations. That left Via scrambling to make amends.

“Very disappointed in [Via’s] failure to notify passengers that they will be taking a bus instead of train #71,” tweeted one user.

“Hi, very sorry for this inconvenience and lack of communications,” Via replied.

Some passengers had purchased tickets before the notice was posted online.

“Paid for a train ticket and got a bus instead,” tweeted Nazaneen Dizai.

"Hi Nazaneen, [we’re] very sorry this. Could you please send an email with details?" Via asked.

Other riders were concerned about cost.

“So you have no choice but to take a bus or lose $20? Thanks,” user Joe McKiernan tweeted in reference to a non-refundable service charge that appeared on his train ticket.

“Hi Joe, we're very sorry for this. No service fee if you wish to cancel/exchange due to the disruption,” Via replied.

Passengers who chose to take the bus were given a discount on their next train ticket, which has to be purchased within the next six months. Riders affected by the track maintenance were told to hold onto their receipt and half of its original cost will be discounted from the next ticket purchased.

“Via Rail should have [offered] 50 per cent off before I have to book my ticket,” tweeted Emily McMurray.

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