Senior sick of bus pass runaround

Virgil Baciu just wants his 2014 bus pass.

Every year the Duncan Manor resident applies for a special transit pass that allows him and others on low incomes or on disability to travel between Cowichan and Victoria for at a significantly reduced rate.

"We people with fixed income, we get a pass for $45," Baciu said. In years past, the system has worked wonderfully, allowing the senior to get around with relative ease. He usually receives the next year’s pass in December, before the current year’s pass expires. That didn’t happen this year and so Baciu is left with an expired 2013 bus pass and no way to get around.

"This year I didn’t get it and that bothers me and I have nobody to talk to," the frustrated man explained.

A look at the program’s web page shows a high volume of requests and a note warning those who got their 2014 applications in late that their passes would take much longer to arrive.

Baciu maintains his application was sent in on time.

"I paid through the bank three months ago and my pass hasn’t come."

With no telephone of his own, the B.C. Bus Pass Program’s automated system available to him through the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation has proven difficult to use. When he does find a phone to use, he can never get a human on the other end.

"I’ve tried time and time again," he said. "They just push it from one message to the other."

Despite assurances by recorded messages that said Baciu’s calls would be answered within 10 minutes, he’s waited half an hour on more than one occasion, only to be disconnected before ever reaching a human – or a resolution.

All of this on a borrowed phone.

"The longer you stay, they say please wait," he explained. "The longer you wait then it just disconnects."

Baciu is fed up and doesn’t know where to turn. "All the time it says the line is busy. It must mean other people are in the same situation," he said. "I want to put it in the newspaper and maybe some boss over there can hire some volunteer people or something because the message says at this time of the year they are very busy."

The Citizen’s calls to the B.C. Bus Pass Program’s help line were put on hold and not picked up.