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Bus fuelled by french fry oil proposed to service Kelowna-Osoyoos route

A Kaslo, B.C., based bus company is applying to the Passenger Transportation Board to expand bus service from Kelowna to Osoyoos, B.C.
A Kaslo, B.C., based bus company is applying to the Passenger Transportation Board to expand bus service from Kelowna to Osoyoos, B.C. Mountain Man Mike's bus service\Facebook

An eco-friendly intercity bus service is hoping B.C.’s passenger transportation board (PTB) will give it the green light to service a new route from Kelowna to Osoyoos, B.C.

Mike Hathaway, who owns and operates Mountain Man Mike’s bus service, already offers a weekly intercity bus service from Vancouver to Kaslo and Kaslo to Calgary, with stops at most communities along the Highway 3 corridor.

READ MORE: Changes coming this weekend to Central Okanagan regional transit system

The company recently applied for an amendment to its licence to gain approval from the independent licensing tribunal to service Highway 97 between Kelowna and Osoyoos.

Hathaway said in his application to the PTB that the Highway 97 corridor through the South Okanagan is not currently serviced by a private operator.  His weekly bus service would stop in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton, Kaledan, Oliver and Osoyoos.

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Mountain Man Mike’s bus service currently operates from Vancouver to Kaslo and Kaslo to Calgary, with stops at most communities along the Highway 3 corridor.
Mountain Man Mike’s bus service currently operates from Vancouver to Kaslo and Kaslo to Calgary, with stops at most communities along the Highway 3 corridor. Mountain Man Mike's bus service\Facebook

“Providing the public with options of travel is in the best interest to the public and prevents sudden gaps in service such as the void left by Greyhound and the unprecedented COVID-19 event, which has left many communities without any form of service,” he told the PTB.

READ MORE: School District 23 considers transportation changes as Central Okanagan busing costs spike

Hathaway said he’s seen a surge in demand for his company’s services amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Due to air travel restrictions, clientele is shifting from seniors to transporting seasonal agricultural workers, business travellers and young people.

By partnering with local restaurants along the route, Mike Hathaway says he has found a made-in-the-Interior solution to transit woes in the B.C. Interior.
By partnering with local restaurants along the route, Mike Hathaway says he has found a made-in-the-Interior solution to transit woes in the B.C. Interior. mountainmanmikes.ca

“We are seeing a lot of care takers that are coming to take care of children, take care of their families,” he said.

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Hathaway added that popular ride-sharing company Kootenay ride-share temporarily suspended operations due to COVID-19, prompting a spike in bookings for his bus service.

Hathaway says all of his buses run on a percentage of recycled restaurant frying oil, an eco-friendly bio diesel used as a fuel alternative.

READ MORE: New BC Transit bus route to travel Kelowna, Summerland, Penticton

“Because of COVID-19, we are not running as high as a per cent because I’m down staffing,” he said.

Hathaway says he uses his proprietary process for turning french fry oil into driving fuel and can achieve almost three times the fuel efficiency of other buses.