UPDATE: Greyhound driver strands passengers in Missouri

Sunday, November 20, 2011 | 8:18 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A Greyhound bus driver who abandoned her bus and passengers overnight in southeast Missouri, about 100 miles from their destination, will be disciplined Monday, the company said Sunday.

"There will be significant disciplinary action taken," said Maureen Richmond, spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines.

The Greyhound bus was taking 45 passengers from Memphis, Tenn., to St. Louis on Friday when the driver left the bus about midnight at a gas station in Charleston. Passengers called 911, as well as Greyhound offices in Memphis and St. Louis, to report their driver had left.

Richmond said another bus driver didn't arrive in Charleston to retrieve the passengers until about 8 a.m. Saturday. She said she did not know why it took so long for a driver to arrive or what compelled the original driver to leave the passengers and bus.

"It's completely unacceptable and something I have never heard of happening before," Richmond told The Associated Press.

The bus passengers eventually arrived in St. Louis about 11 a.m. Saturday, nearly 10 hours after their scheduled arrival time.

"I was shocked," passenger Ashley Ahart told KSDK-TV. "I felt like I was being punked. I was upset. I was scared because I didn't know if a new bus was going to come. They kept saying a new bus was going to come, but no buses came so we had to spend the night on the bus."

Richmond said the company was still piecing together the events that led to the passengers being abandoned and that company officials planned to discuss the matter with the driver more fully on Monday.

Passengers, however, told KSDK that the driver had ordered one passenger off the bus near Sikeston because he was being unruly. The driver then said she was leaving, pulled over in Cape Girardeau, left and waited outside for someone to pick her up.

Passengers called 911, and when police arrived they ordered the driver back on the bus. The driver complied, but after driving to nearby Charleston, she left again, the passengers said.

Richmond said the driver, who has not been identified, is based in Memphis and has worked for Greyhound since 2004. She said the company has extensive training for its drivers in how to handle passengers, and that it would be acceptable to put a passenger off a bus if there's the feeling of a threat.

But Richmond said the driver should have notified Greyhound dispatch that she was leaving the bus. If she had done that, a new bus driver would likely have arrived within two hours, Richmond said.

"I think it's safe to say the protocol was not followed," Richmond said.

She said the company is offering the passengers at least full refunds and "will work with them on a case-by-case basis."

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