Bus reroutes to unite daughter with dying mother in Nanaimo

Normally a bus rerouted because of road obstructions is an inconvenience, but for one woman it meant she might not get one last chance to see her mother alive.

A West Vancouver Blue Bus was en route to Horseshoe Bay Sunday – Mother's Day – when it had to reroute because of a traffic incident on the Lions Gate Bridge.

When the driver announced the detour would make it impossible to connect with a 12:30 p.m. ferry to Nanaimo, an unidentified woman began crying and saying she had to make that ferry.

When questioned, the distraught woman explained her mother was terminally ill at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and she had received a phone call that morning saying her mother had only hours left.

"Everybody started trying to brainstorm ways to get her over to Nanaimo in time," said Jackson Price, who was travelling to his parents' home in Ladysmith for Mother's Day.

One passenger hit on the idea of getting the woman on a float plane to Nanaimo, but the woman only had enough money for ferry fare.

A hat collection went around the bus, most passengers chipped in what cash they could spare, and Peter Cockroft, the bus driver, agreed to get the woman as close as possible to the float plane terminal.

"I tossed in five dollars. I thought I had more in my wallet, but that's all the cash I had," Price said. "One lady didn't have any money, but she contributed a lot of Kleenex."

Price said when the woman was dropped off at the terminal she had more than enough money for air fare.

"Anybody would have done what I did. It wasn't a big deal," said Cockroft, who has been with the bus service since 1996. "It was more about the Good Samaritans who started the collection than anything."

"There were a lot of teary eyes on the bus," said Price. "Living in a city, you don't think people can be like that anymore. It was a pretty amazing thing to be a part of."

Jessica Delaney, District of West Vancouver spokeswoman, said the West Vancouver Blue Bus is operated by the Coast Mountain Bus Service, but is funded directly through the municipality and Cockroft is a municipal employee.

Delaney said the Blue Bus Transit system is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It started in 1912 with one bus and one ferry and is the oldest continuously operated municipal system in North America.


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