Tough times for some bus riders heading to Seattle

2013-04-05T18:40:00Z 2013-07-01T16:41:31Z Tough times for some bus riders heading to SeattleBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

By the time a dozen bus riders traveling from Arkansas and Texas arrived in Billings to catch a Friday afternoon bus west to Seattle, they were exhausted. 

After getting stranded in Denver on Wednesday and Thursday, a Texas cowboy will miss his West Coast wedding, and a disabled Hot Springs, Ark., woman dependent on a motorized scooter and her teenage daughter ran out of money.

“This was supposed to be a fun, happy time. Now I’m scared to death. I don’t even have enough money to feed us two more days,” said Patricia Burgess, who got stuck in Colorado on a trip from Arkansas to Seattle.

As a final frustration, when they tried to board a westbound bus in Billings on Friday afternoon, the Salt Lake Express motor coach had no lift for her scooter and they had to wait again for the next bus.

Colorado’s bus travel was disrupted Wednesday and Thursday due to several factors: late storms; the start of a busy bus season; and perhaps some lingering impact from the March 22 shutdown of Rimrock Stages of Billings for safety violations. Other carriers have been picking up some of the Rimrock routes across the region.

Drew Shelby, of Marble Falls, Texas, said his 2 1/2 day express bus trip to Seattle is taking four days, causing him to miss his wedding at midnight on Friday.

“I’m going to Washington state to start my life over again on a ranch” as a chuck wagon cook, Shelby said.

Vera Swearnger, of Dallas, was moving to Seattle with the help of her daughter, Vivian Dorset. The 60-year-old Swearnger said she’s been riding the bus her entire life and never ran into delays like Greyhound had in Denver.

“They canceled two buses in a row without explanation,” she said.

Dorset, who works as an executive assistant in Seattle, is used to punctuality and order, so she started calling Greyhound customer service until they finally got a bus to Billings.

Meanwhile, they had to pull six suitcases and two trunks around on a cart in Denver — all of her mother’s possessions for the move to Seattle.

“I’m going to write some reminiscences about what happened to me between Wednesday and today (Friday). They won’t believe it,” Swearnger said.

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