Tourism Rossland had two big recent announcements, both relating to public transportation and skiing. The first of the two was a guaranteed bus from Spokane airport to Rossland and Nelson, the second is an in town shuttle that supplements the BC Transit route.
Deanne Stevens from Tourism Rossland said that with the resort municipality funding, Tourism Rossland has been able to leverage a small amount of money to make a lot more money.
“We partnered with Whitewater and Nelson Kootenay Lake DMO (destination marketing organization),” she said.
Stevens said one of the big problems was that the company needed four people on the bus to break even, so there were times when it couldn’t run and meet that goal, which meant that the bus was not guaranteed.
“What we’ve done is we’re basically buying the empty seats so that we can guarantee that even if one person books on that bus it will still go,” she said.
The Spokane-Red-Whitewater bus will run four days a week – Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
The route begins in Nelson, stops in Rossland, then heads to Spokane and then comes back up the same way.
And it starts this weekend.
“It’s not a perfect solution yet, but we’re trying to build capacity on these lines so that these businesses can make enough money that they are working on their own.”
The in town shuttle is the other announcement. “This is one we have just put together. Stevens said she had studied the transit issues of Rossland and found some interesting things. She hoped to find out what the actual issues were with the in town shuttle.
“We noticed very quickly that we have a couple really great opportunities,” she said. “The first is the BC Transit bus. It actually goes 54 per cent of the days that Red is open. Which is a lot higher than I think any of us thought.”
The bus makes the run to Red on weekends and during school holidays.
Stevens said that this was an opportunity to promote the service, since many Rossland residents don’t have kids and so may not know when school holiday’s are.
At the same time, she said that once it was all laid out, they could see what was missing from the schedule.
“So we’ve partnered with Red Mountain Academic to increase the service to 89 per cent of the days Red is open,” she said. “Basically what we’ve done is we’ve hired Lasting Impression Limousines to do two routes a day, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.”
They will run the ski bus route, then come back and pick up the kids from the Academy, and then do another route.
Stevens said the idea was that since Red Mountain Academies needs to hire a bus anyway, it doesn’t cost them with the Tourism Rossland partnership.
“If they do one more route, with this company, it’s not going to cost twice as much money,” she said. “We’ve managed to keep them under budget with this project and it’s going to cost us about $8,000.
Stevens described the bus itself as “a pimped-out, Las Vegas style, leather interior shuttle bus.”
Their next step is creating a pamphlet that shows when all the buses are running.
“We’re creating signs for each of the three ski bus stops. The three stops are the Prestige, Casa Alpina and Red,” she said.
“We’ve mirrored exactly the times of the transit bus because we’re trying to make it as easy as possible to get people into a habit to take it.
Prices are the same, and everything is the same, except for a lunchtime run on Wednesday’s and Thursdays and no evening run.”