Unhappy with your bus ride? If you're in Laval, you can get a refund

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Have you ever been on a transit bus and been unhappy for some reason?

A rhetorical question, of course — everyone has — but Laval's transit corporation wants you to know that if you're not happy with your ride, you can get your money back.

In 2017, the Société de Transport de Laval (STL) introduced a new service guarantee program. Under the program, if your ride doesn't meet any of the STL's five service benchmarks — punctuality, politeness on the part of staff, accurate and relevant information, safety and comfort, reliability and cleanliness — and, if the STL validates your complaint, then you would be entitled to some cash back.

"If you're bus is two minutes ahead of time, or six minutes late, you can ask for a [one-way] ticket," Guy Picard, the STL's general manager, told CJAD 800's Elias Makos. "If the bus is more than 10 minutes late, you can ask for two tickets. Or if you use a monthly pass, you can ask for a rebate of $5 that you can apply on your next purchase of a monthly pass."

On Monday, the STL unveiled its first set of results from the program — in two years, the agency has paid out $17,500 to about 3,800 disappointed riders.

Picard says that 3,800 riders, out of 19 million trips per year, is not a bad record.

"It's very little," he said. "It's about one compensation for about 12,000 trips."

The program, incidentally, has been around for a while — about 20 years, in fact. But Picard says hardly anyone knew about it until the STL conducted some focus groups on the matter — and found out that buses not showing up on time was a common problem among users. So they revived the program, and set performance standards.

And apparently, they're working.

"The reality is that we are very, very good," Picard says. "We have a performance [rate] on punctuality of about 90 per cent."

According to Picard, the STL's service guarantee program is the only one of its kind in Canada.