Approximately 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC on January 21 for the Women’s March on Washington in an attempt to send a message to the Trump administration about upholding and advancing civil rights.
To get there, many chose to buy tickets from bus startups like Rally, which connects riders going to the same destination with third-party charter bus companies.
But according to riders, the New York City-based company, which is often referred to as ‘Uber of buses,’ had trouble transporting some of the the tens of thousands that bought bus tickets for the march.
One passenger, Heather Moran-Combs, tells Business Insider that her bus did not show up as scheduled at the bus stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 20, the evening before the march. Ten buses were confirmed for approximately 550 people, but only eight buses came.
There were more than 75 passengers left behind. Some of those passengers had booked their tickets in November 2016, Moran-Combs says. She has not received reimbursement for her $165 ticket as of January 24.
Amy Balzer-Pemberton, a passenger from Ann Arbor that was able to get on one of those eight buses, says her bus broke down in Toledo, Michigan — about 50 minutes from where she boarded. Another passenger on that bus called her family to bring a van to transport some of the stranded people. Balzer-Pemberton and five other women drove in shifts and reached DC around 11 a.m. on the day of the march.
Balzer-Pemberton and her friend paid $330 for a pair of Rally tickets, and have asked for a full refund. They haven’t received it as of January 24, but a Rally representative emailed them to say they will receive it soon.
Another bus in Tallahassee, Florida cancelled four hours before it was supposed to leave, according to Selena Chambers, who came to the bus stop to say goodbye to friends after her own Rally bus was cancelled earlier in the week.
According to Chambers, many passengers (including her friend) showed up to the bus stop, because they hadn’t seen the email notifying them that the ride was cancelled due to mechanical issues. About eight of the 30 people who were supposed to be on the cancelled bus rented a van and drove to DC.
Eileen Wright, a passenger from St. Petersburg, Florida, wrote on Facebook that her Rally bus broke down at a McDonald’s at 1:30 a.m. in Fairmont, North Carolina, after 11 hours of travelling. Eight hours after the initial bus breakdown, another bus showed up to transport them to DC, but by that time the march was about to start, Wright wrote.
Numaan Akram, Rally’s founder and CEO, told Business Insider in a statement that all affected passengers will receive refunds by February 1. He attributes the bus no-shows and break-downs — which included mechanical issues from flat tires to engine failures — to the massive scale of the event. Akram says that nearly 50,000 people bought tickets from Rally for the march in DC.
“Less than 1% of the more than 1,200 buses we chartered had issues. This feat was due to Rally’s technology, relationships and knowledge of the industry, as well our team’s diligence on execution,” he said.
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