Kootenay company applies for new bus route through Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kootenay company applies for new bus route through Kelowna

Mountain Man Mike's, a West Kootenay transit service, hopes to establish a new route connecting Kelowna and Highway 97 with its Highway 3 network in Osoyoos.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Mountain Man Mike's

A West Kootenay transit company is hoping to add a Highway 97 link to its network of B.C. interior routes as COVID-19 protocols ease and transportation needs return in the region.

Mike Hathaway of Kaslo-based Mountain Man Mike’s recently applied for a licence amendment from the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board to gain the right to service Highway 97 in a bid to link Kelowna to Osoyoos.

The new run would connect with Mountain Man Mike’s present service between Nelson and Vancouver, which now runs on a weekly basis.

Hathaway says his company will be increasing service on that route in the near future and hopes to add a bus to service the new Kelowna to Osoyoos route, which would link to the Vancouver bus in Osoyoos.

“We have authority to run between Kaslo and Calgary via Highway 3, although that service has been paused because of  COVID-19 policy differences between B.C. and Alberta,” he says.

That route is expected to be reactivated in the next few weeks. With the Highway 97 route, Hathaway says more than 30 small communities between Kelowna and Calgary will also be provided a bus connection.

“We’ve been looking at Highway 97 for a while. We’ll start to build the route with once a week service, then twice a week as ridership demands,” he says.

Hathaway says his operational philosophy has been to start small and grow.

“That’s the way we’ve been operating, taking things one step at a time,” he says.

The company is conscious of its environmental footprint and currently uses biodiesel fuel with plans to go electric, Hathaway says.

Osoyoos is one of the company’s busiest hubs. Hathaway says he’s spoken to Kelowna International Airport about providing service and says he’s just a fee away from making that a route stop.

The company applied to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board on May 20 for the amendment. Hathaway is seeking public support to prove a need for the service by asking those interested to write a 'public service indicator' letter to the board.

Details for letter submission can be found on the company’s Facebook page.

Deadline for submissions is May 27. Hathaway says once he’s approved, he hopes to implement the service by the end of June or early July.

B.C. Transit currently operates a bus service connecting Penticton to Kelowna through the South Okanagan Similkameen Transit System. The route, implemented in September, 2019, currently operates a two round trip daily runs from Penticton to Kelowna on Mondays and a single daily round trip from Tuesday through Friday.

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