Adventure Charters, based in Williams Lake, has been awarded a licence to operate two inter-city bus routes in the B.C. Interior: one from Prince George to Surrey down the Fraser Canyon, and another from Williams Lake to Kamloops.
The licence was granted last week by the Passenger Transportation Board, following the failure of the previous licence holder, Merritt Shuttle Bus Services Ltd., to obtain buses, despite several licence extensions.
Janna Gertzen, co-owner of Adventure Charters, says that now that the licence has been granted, the next step is to get a schedule and pick-up points finalized by April 15, a deadline set by the Transportation Board.
“We’re looking for the safest and best points to embark and disembark along the routes,” she explains. After that it will be a matter of getting the final issuance of the licence, and Gertzen says the best-case scenario is that the company is 30 to 45 days out from starting service.
“This needed to happen quickly,” she notes. “We’ve been without passenger bus service for far too long [since Greyhound ceased service in Western Canada in late October 2018].”
Adventure Charters, which has been in operation since 2005, currently has seven buses, which provide charter service in and around Williams Lake and the surrounding area. The company currently provides a range of bus services for a wide variety of customers, such as daily scheduled employee transportation to remote work sites, contracted tourism transportation charters, team and educational travel, and event and party transportation.
Gertzen says that the Prince George-Surrey bus would carry 36 passengers, and the Williams Lake-Kamloops bus would carry 20. She adds that the routes are being set up so that passengers can transfer from Prince George at Williams Lake and carry on to Kamloops.
The services would also run so that transfers could be made at Prince George to routes served by the BC Bus North network, and at Kamloops for Vancouver and the Okanagan.
The plan is to run both routes twice-weekly, and Gertzen says the company has the ability to add more buses and/or runs as necessary.
“We thought that when Greyhound pulled out a big company would step in. But they left a gap right down the middle of the province, and we want to fill in gaps in the existing grid.
“We want to provide safe travel within the Interior of B.C. with service timing set up to allow our guests to link into other transportation options already in place and operating. Our goal is to have a schedule that allows for easy connections, allowing passengers to easily travel beyond our routes to provide a service that is as seamless as possible.”
Gertzen says that the pick-up and drop-off points will be very similar to what Greyhound offered along the Highway 97 and Highway 1 corridors. She adds that they are also looking at pick-up points for people outside communities along the corridors.
“If you need a bus to get somewhere, you don’t necessarily have a car to get to Cache Creek or Clinton. We need to make it easily accessible for people, and we’ll be exploring that next week.” She notes that the company will not be offering a courier/package service the way Greyhound did.
“We’re strictly a passenger service. We’re concentrating on that. We want to do people-moving right.”
Randy Gertzen, the company’s operating manager, says that “Adventure Charters is ready to roll. We have quality equipment in our yard and drivers ready to go, and we’re ready to hire more as needed.
“We could have been on the road months ago if we had the license. It’s unfortunate that proper bus service to so much of the province has been delayed this long already, but we’re ready to change that.”
Full details of the company’s schedule and fares will soon be up on the Adventure Charters website at www.adventurecharters.ca.