It’s been a scramble, but Ebus will be running buses from Kamloops and the Okanagan starting Wednesday in time to replace the outgoing Greyhound bus service.
“We think we’ve done a fairly good job in a short period of time,” Ebus director of business development John Stepovy told iNFOnews.ca. “It was in July when we heard about this. It usually takes longer coming into a new market.”
The Alberta-based company’s service links Kamloops to Kelowna through Vernon then on to Vancouver, and the other way as well with four buses a day though Kelowna in either direction.
It stops at Kelowna International Airport and near 32 Ave. and 31 St. in Vernon. The Kamloops location was not confirmed today but should be by Wednesday.
Riders can go to www.myebus.ca to book rides or there is a kiosk at Kelowna International Airport.
The airport location (where tour busses and shuttles pick up at the south end of the terminal) was selected because it could be secured quickly, Stepovy said, noting stops in downtown Kelowna and West Kelowna may follow.
“We encourage the public to provide feedback,” he said.
The on-line schedule shows departures from Kelowna to Vancouver at 7:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., taking five hours and fifty minutes with a number of stops along the way.
It costs $46.57 from Kelowna to Merritt, Hope, Chilliwack or Abbotsford, $67.48 for Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver.
That compares to the $79.28 for Greyhound at the ticket counter, although their rates are lower if booked on line. Ebus gives a five per cent discount for on line bookings but no discounts for seniors or children.
The bus will leave Kamloops for the Okanagan at 7:15 a.m., and 4:45 p.m., Vernon to Kelowna at 8:45 a.m. and 7:15 p.m., then Kelowna to Vancouver at 9:15 a.m. and 6:45 p.m.
The Vernon to Kelowna bus leaves Vernon at 8:45 a.m. and 7:15 p.m., takes half and hour and costs $23.75.
The return bus leaves Vancouver for Kelowna at 7:50 a.m. and 5:20 p.m., Kelowna to Vernon at 1:40 pm. and 11:20 p.m. and from Vernon to Kamloops at 2:10 p.m. and 11:40 p.m.
No rates are available for the Vernon-Kamloops trip and no information is yet available on a Kamloops-Vancouver connection.
Stepovy said it’s too early to tell if there will be further routes added.
“We need to get up and running and need to get a base of operations established and a customer base established,” he said. “Right now, it’s about ensuring the routes are up and running before Greyhound leaves.”
That’s of concern for people like 92-year-old Lillian Rooks of Salmon Arm who caught her last bus ride today from Kelowna back to Salmon Arm.
“I do this five or six times a year,” she said. “If I can’t get something, I’ll have to move to Kelowna.”
Ebus is talking to smaller carriers about making connections with its new service and Rooks has heard rumours of some connection out of Salmon Arm, but she’s anxious that there’s no news yet.
As for the Penticton-Kelowna route, in early September the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen passed a bylaw that paves the way for it to create a Penticton-Kelowna route but that isn't expected to be up and running until the fall of 2019
The Wilson Transportation Group, based on Vancouver Island, has also applied for a licence to serve the Interior but there’s no confirmation of that yet.
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