In the fall of 2015 with little public consultation Greyhound Bus Lines cancelled their scheduled passenger service to Calgary. Now passengers wishing to travel by bus to Calgary must go through Golden resulting in a 16-hour trip for what is normally a 3 hour car ride.
The Greyhound service from the Columbia Valley had provided an essential connection for the residents to Calgary. The cancellation of service left residents feeling isolated and searching for alternatives. Since the Greyhound service was discontinued a public service from the Columbia Valley to Banff/Calgary is not provided by any carrier.
In the spring of 2016 a number of residents from the Columbia Valley approached the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce to assist in finding a solution to the lack of transportation available to them. The Columbia Valley Chamber hosted a number of meetings including representatives from the senior community, Invermere Rotary Club, Businesses, Family Dynamix and the Better at Home program.
In August 2016 the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce approached Olympus Stage Lines, Brewster Bus Lines and Columbia Valley Taxi enquiring about their interest in providing service to Calgary for local travelers who have no means of safe transportation to medical/legal appointments and family visits. Olympus Stage Lines enthusiastically demonstrated the interest and willingness to develop a solution for the community.
Olympus Stage Lines Ltd. will provide safe, licensed, insured and affordable transportation services from the Columbia Valley to Calgary in a wheelchair accessible vehicle which will accommodate up to 16 passengers plus luggage.
The proposed service will initially operate 2 days a week every other week as follows:
- The vehicle will pick up passengers at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce in Invermere and proceed to Canmore where after a short break it will continue to North Hill Centre in Calgary.
- The North Hill Centre destination was chosen for several reasons:
- It is easily accessible and adequate parking is available.
- This location allows passengers to wait comfortably and safely indoors while awaiting pick up and further connections.
- The rear number 5 entrance is almost directly across from the Lions Park C Train to allow for easy connections.
- There are many transit bus routes which leave from North Hill Centre. (Calgary Transit guides will be made available to passengers).
- It is in close proximity to Foothills Hospital and Professional Centre as well as numerous other clinics.
Tickets will be sold via an online reservation system supported by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce with the exception of possible last minute return passengers for which the driver will call the Chamber to process the fare. The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce will provide a manifest to the driver which will include the passenger name, contact phone (cell if available), intended return date, and emergency contact information.
Benefits – meeting the needs of a thriving community
- Local residents able to travel to and from the community – we will make it easy for them to stay when it is easy for them to come and go.
- Seasonal workforce can reach the community easily – local employers can utilize the service which with accessibility to a larger centre will make prospective employees consider the Columbia Valley.
- Tourists and visitors will have an option to travel to the Columbia Valley without renting a car.
- 3 significant community reports indicated that transportation is an important economic issue for the Columbia Valley:
- CV Community Priorities Plan ftp://ftp.rdek.bc.ca/pdf/cvcdfprogram/cvcdfcommunityprioritiesplan_feb14.pdf
- Vital Signs https://issuu.com/communityfoundationsofcanada/docs/report_columbiavalley_2016
- Residential Attraction & Retention http://www.radiumhotsprings.ca/sites/default/files/Columbia%20Valley%20Resident%20Attraction%20and%20Retention%20Strategy%20FINAL.PD