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