Turkey Tricolour buses stuffed

An upswing in students eager for a homecooked Thanksgiving meal has prompted Destinations to search out alternate means of transport.

The service has chartered two school buses to Toronto to transport students in order to accommodate greater demand over Thanksgiving weekend.

“That’s something that we’re uniquely doing this year,” said William Howe, Destinations head manager.

Howe said he heard stories of students having to buy first-class tickets on Via Rail last year, because other modes of transportation were sold out. He said he thinks students shouldn’t have to go to such great lengths to get home for Thanksgiving.

“[The bus] is not as luxurious a ride, but still it’s a ride home,” Howe said, adding that because of the deal Destinations has with Coach Canada, seats on the school buses can’t be sold at a lower cost than coach seats.

The store was abuzz Wednesday as students made travel arrangements for the upcoming weekend. Printers whirred and computer mice clicked, as Destinations employees staffed two lineups: one for students who hadn’t yet bought a ticket, and one for students who had taken advantage of last week’s pre-sale. The latter stretched out of Destinations and wound around the JDUC hallway.

Lisa Press, ArtSci ’06, said she bought her ticket to Toronto during the Destinations pre-sale last week.

“[But] when I was here, even last week they’d sold out of [tickets to] Burlington.”

Press said she doesn’t think there has been a marked increase in people buying Thanksgiving tickets out of Kingston since last year.

“It’s usually about the same every year,” she said. “This is really the only weekend that I would say is this bad.”

While some students waited to pick up pre-sold tickets, others who hadn’t yet made travel plans were faced with a rapidly decreasing number of seats available.

“Coach Canada was able to provide us with buses from all over, and the demand has still exceeded [what we’ve got],” Howe said. “The demand is quite high.” Destinations’ revised bus schedule for the Thanksgiving weekend includes special buses to Kitchener, Mississauga, Oakville, London, Burlington and Hamilton on Friday and Monday, as well as a Thursday bus service to Ottawa.

Howe said Destinations had sold out of tickets for all buses leaving on Friday bound for Toronto and Ottawa, and all returns from Toronto and Ottawa on Monday, as well as all specialty buses. By Wednesday afternoon, two seats were left on a Friday bus to Montreal, and eight for the return on Monday.

Howe added that buses are still available on Thursday, as there is less demand and Coach Canada can provide more coaches for the Tricolour Express. Some students in the Destinations lineup were being turned away or told to try to buy their ticket at a bus station.

Jennica Balk-Smith, ArtSci ’08, said she was sick last week and unable to buy a ticket during the pre-sale. Now that the Tricolour to Kitchener has sold out, she said she hopes to buy a ticket from Coach Canada.

Don Braund, an agent for the Coach Canada Kingston terminal, said he was not worried about buses selling out.

“We run the regular service [during Thanksgiving weekend], we just line up extra buses,” he said. “Probably the afternoon trips will be the busiest, and there may be three sections per run.”

Braund said buses for the Tricolour Express were limited so other buses could be kept available at the Coach Canada station.

“We’ve got a lot of calls from kids saying, ‘They’re sold out, can we reserve?’ and we say no,” he said. Braund added that while Coach Canada does not accept reservations, people arriving 45 to 50 minutes in advance should be able to get seats.

“The odd time we get caught [and run out of seats],” he said. “Some people may have to wait for the next run.”

Braund said some buses, once full, may leave early, and that another bus would be brought in.

“[The Friday before Thanksgiving] is the busiest day of the year,” he said.

The UBS Exchange sold 3,639 trips for last year’s Thanksgiving weekend.

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