bus service

Pacific Coach Lines: Happy Fun Bus or Highway to Hell?

I live on an island. There’s no getting around that, especially when I need to visit my parents, friends, work on the mainland. It’s a big chunk of my day when I travel so the experience better be a good one. Did I mention I also don’t have a car? Generally my routine involves Pacific Coach Line bus – BC Ferry – Mommy/Daddy picking me up.
The trip is done in reverse on the way back. The customer service I get from the parents is top notch (Hey, I don’t bite the hand that feeds or gives birth) and I’ve already reviewed BC Ferry. Sooooo, you’re up PCL.

I first go to the bus depot on Douglas where I pick up my ticket. It’s a pretty straight forward, get in line process where you can get an open ended ticket to Tsawwassen, the Vancouver Airport or Vancouver. From there, with ticket in hand, you get in line for your bus about 15 min before departure. Big bags go under and smaller bags are carryon. Once the bus makes its way to the ferry and boards, I’m pretty much done with them until I come back to Victoria.

The return trip is only different in that you have to buy tickets on the ferry, board the bus there and get off closest to your street. The whole process is down to a science with no variation. Which is good because you do want to get where you’re going.

The bus depot is nothing to look at. But then, have you seen one that was? No frills, no comfy seats and a cashier that keeps people moving with little fanfare or eye contact. To be honest, there usually isn’t time (though eye contact would be nice) as that place is always busy and on the clock. The bus driver who sells the tickets on the ferry is much more personable. There definitely is a sense of routine to how he tells you where to go and which bus to catch on the ferry but there is definitely some personality there. It’s quite the opposite experience because you almost feel he could hurry up a bit more.

The bus ride itself was fine. A major bus line getting its passengers from Point A to Point B. What really stood out for me was the ride from Schwartz Bay to Victoria. The bus driver made a point to make sure we told him when we wanted to get off at our various destinations. And when we did? He thanked us for taking Pacific Coach Lines. HE THANKED US! When the hell can you remember being thanked for your patronage? I’m having a think right now and I can remember it happening just not when or from whom. I’ve heard, “have a great day” or “bye” but not many “thank yous”. Which is really kind of sad.

Pacific Coach Line Conclusion:

2nd Date – I’ll give you a second chance. I’d rate them higher but it is the nature of the business to be no frills efficient…which sadly means that extra step of personality and customer service is taken down a notch. However, the service of getting us to where we need to be and that added appreciation for my business makes me want to take a ride on PCL.

Service Rating System:

Friend Zone – I just don’t like you in “that way.”
Booty Call – If I don’t have anything else better going on, I’ll stop by.
2nd Date – I’ll give you a second chance.
Going steady – This could be the beginning of something major.

The Tip:
Something was brought to my attention in last week’s blog comments. Is cost a factor in service? Should you let bad service slide if you’re not paying top dollar?

Personally, I believe good service is good service. Yes, if I’m paying $300 for dinner I should get a shoe shine but overall, great customer service should be the standard across the board. It is about building a relationship long-term with the customer. There are a million fast food/coffee shops/gas stations/retail stores…I’ll just go to the ones that make the effort. So I don’t care what BIG BUSINESS has to do to teach some of their employees not to say “What did you say?” but rather, “Excuse me, I didn’t quite hear that.” (You catch the difference Yates Starbucks kid?

What do you think?

I welcome comments and discussion. And remember you can join the conversation on Facebook. Click here to join The Upsell group.


  • I hate the bus. So generally, if I am forced to ride one, my only criteria for satisfaction is that; a)it gets me where I need to go, and b) doesn’t smell like urine.

    However, I have taken the PCL for the Ikea shopping extravaganza and not only did I get a) and b), I got c) the price of my ticket taken off my bill for spending over $250.

    How easy is it to spend $250 at Ikea? That’s right, easy as ABC.

  • I must comment because I take the PCL a lot. I love that this service is available. I can’t imagine the hassle of taking the city bus on either end to the downtown cores, but here are my suggestions for better service. Firstly, WHY must I walk on the ferry and wait in line for 20 minutes for the bus driver to come upstairs, while all the good seats on the ferry are being taken, to purchase a PCL ticket? Wouldn’t it be better customer service to allow the purchase of a bus ticket at the same time as the purchase of the ferry ticket. Like when you go to the movies and pay at the machine, you have the option of purchasing food combos as well. I’m SURE BC Ferries and PCL could work something like this out. It would make me very happy. Secondly, why do only some buses give you the option to be dropped off in the actual downtown of Vancouver? I rarely seem to be on these buses. It’s kind of ridiculous that after paying to take a bus “downtown”, I then have to take the skytrain to the actual downtown. The Art Gallery or Hotel Vancouver should ALWAYS be a stop. Afterall, they advertise service to “downtown” Vancouver. Other than that, thank you for the convenience of your service PCL!

  • I don’t mind PCL, but they forgot to pick me up one time. They had me on hold for 25 minutes before they realized their “miscommunication”. The girl on the phone didn’t even apologize. Instead she told me to wait for the next bus or catch a cab and send them the bill.

    I burned out to the ferry in a cab, but missed it and had to take the 9pm ferry, along with my three year old neice. Not cool. I would have made the ferry if they hadn’t taken so long figuring out what happened. Were they waiting for a messenger bird? Where is PCL’s technology? Pick up a phone!

    I shouldn’t complain so much. They reimbursed me for the cab ride. I still haven’t received an apology, though, and don’t expect one, which is why I feel compelled to share my experience. An apology goes a long way in customer service!

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