Unique rural shuttle bus service gets rolling in Kamloops
A retired Canadian Armed Forces member has launched a transportation company to provide services for the rural Kamloops community.
Goran Kurtagic operates the Valhalla Shuttle bus that takes residents from Pinantan Lake and the surrounding area into Kamloops and back.
“I enjoy serving the community, it’s what makes me happy,” he said. “I volunteer as a firefighter and medical first responder, it’s about helping people.”
Pinantan Lake is roughly 30 kilometres northeast of Kamloops. The small community doesn’t have transit or even cell service, so Kurtagic went to work last summer to fill the transportation gap.
“Some people here carpool or depend on friends but if they break down there’s no cell reception,” he said. “One way for a cab out here is $80. I contacted BC Transit and the (Thompson Nicola Regional District) and was told there aren’t plans in the future to serve the area, and they were fully supportive of my idea.”
There was a lot of red tape he had to get through before transporting his first passengers earlier this month.
He purchased the bus in Nelson and had to make costly repairs before it passed inspection. He then went to Vancouver to get his Class 2 drivers license. Then he had to obtain an operating license from the province, all of which took time and money.
“I’m glad I had savings put away,” he said. “The process was bigger than I expected.”
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He did his first run on Tuesday, April 17.
“I only had five onboard, I didn’t do a lot of advertising ahead of time,” he said. “Since then I’ve made a website and posters. It's a first start.”
The routes are posted on Kurtagic's social media but are subject to change as the community gives feedback on their different needs and schedules. So far, the routes cover communities surrounding Paul Lake reserve and West Paul Lake below Harper Mountain.
Passengers can either pay cash or use debit, as Kurtagic bought a point-of-sale system that serves offline where there isn’t cell reception. The price per person is $15. Children 12 and under can get on the bus for $10, while infants are free.
He also charters bus trips to Sun Peaks and Kelowna.
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While the he's still adjusting and developing the business, Kurtagic hopes it might become a model for other rural communities to consider.
For now, he’s just taking it one kilometre at a time.
“I like driving a bus while people are enjoying the view, I always wanted to drive a bus.”
Go here for more about Valhalla Shuttle, including routes, and to request a pickup.
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