Airport shuttle service starts from Osoyoos to Kelowna

By on August 13, 2014
Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells speaks at the announcement of a shuttle service between Osoyoos and Kelowna International Airport. Details were announced at a news conference at Spirit Ridge on Friday. (Keith Lacey photo)

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells speaks at the announcement of a shuttle service between Osoyoos and Kelowna International Airport. Details were announced at a news conference at Spirit Ridge on Friday. (Keith Lacey photo)

If you live in Osoyoos and are planning a trip to Halifax, Toronto or even Australia, you can now leave your car parked in your driveway and no longer have to worry about parking your vehicle or getting to Kelowna International Airport.

After many months of hard work and negotiations, residents across the South Okanagan will now be able to connect between communities and get to the Kelowna International Airport after the official launch of the Let’s Go ground shuttle service.

Shuttle service between the communities spread across the South Okanagan officially began Monday morning with four daily round trips offered between Osoyoos and Kelowna International Airport.

“With this new transportation link, I believe it will open up some great economic development opportunities,” said Town of Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells, who was one of several dignitaries who attended last Friday’s official launch of the new shuttle service outside the Nk’Mip Cellars Winery in Osoyoos.

“Now that this service is up and ready to go, we have to make it work because there are some tremendous opportunities now available to us.”

Partners from several organizations, including the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Greater Westside Board of Trade and Air Canada, were on hand to announce the launch of the new daily scheduled shuttle service from Osoyoos to Kelowna International Airport.

Customers will be shuttled in modern, air-conditioned 15-passenger vans initially, but Let’s Go Transportation owners Birgit and Fabio Santana said they will be looking at expanding the current fleet if there is sufficient demand for their service.

There will be 10 inter-community stops between Osoyoos and Kelowna International Airport, including stops in Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna and Kelowna.

The flat one-way fee for passengers in Osoyoos will range from $15 to Oliver to $45 to Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna and $45 to Kelowna International Airport.

Rates to Peachland are $35, $20 to Penticton and $25 to Summerland.

“Having a regular scheduled transportation link between Osoyoos and Kelowna is something we have needed for years,” said South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce president Myers Bennett. “Tourists flying into Kelowna and Penticton airports have been looking for an easy way to come and stay at our resorts and our residents have wanted more than one time option during the day to connect to our neighbouring communities and airports for appointments and flights.”

The South Okanagan is promoted and marketed as a world-class tourism destination but was lacking an efficient, effective and easy to access regional transportation system, said Glenn Mandziuk, president and CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.

“This new shuttle service is a major step forward for the South Okanagan … to attract new tourists and business travellers,” he said. “What makes this project a success right out of the gate is the strong public and private partnerships that have been forged in the delivery and marketing of this shuttle.”

The vision for a South Okanagan shuttle service was launched more than a year ago as numerous community-based partners joined together to discuss the concept of providing air travellers with improved ground transportation options to the airports in Kelowna and Penticton.

Through a Request for Proposal process, Let’s Go Transportation was awarded the contract that will provide daily service that will include four round trips from Osoyoos to Kelowna as well as the 10 inter-community stops at easy to access pickup and drop off areas in all of the communities.

“We plan to give our passengers the best in customer service and a value-added experience when they step onto our shuttles,” said Birgit Santana.

Kevin Howlett, Air Canada’s senior vice-president of regional markets, said his company views this new shuttle service as a unique opportunity to connect air travellers to both airports to the entire South Okanagan.

“We are delighted to work together with the SOCC, TOTA and Kelowna Airport to promote an efficient and economical shuttle service for our customers flying in and out of the Okanagan Valley,” said Howlett. “Air Canada’s flights from Kelowna and Penticton all connect with our extensive worldwide network from our Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto hubs and Let’s Go Transportation shuttle is a wonderfully convenient option for both local residents and visiting customers alike to travel between the airports and the wide array of vibrant resorts, wineries and communities in the Okanagan Valley.”

The earliest daily pickup from Osoyoos will be at 7:30 a.m. at Nk’Mip Resort. The last passengers will be dropped off at the Watermark Beach Resort at 11:45 p.m. and Nk’Mip Resort at 11:55 p.m. The earliest pick up of passengers will be at 4:10 a.m. from the Petro Canada station in Penticton for those who have to catch the earliest flights leaving Kelowna International Airport.

Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson said the shuttle service will not only allow residents across the region to keep their vehicles at home when they travel abroad, but also provide much easier access for those who want to visit other communities to visit family, go shopping or seek out the numerous attractions spread across the South Okanagan.

Let’s Go Transportation has been offering shuttle services to residents in the Central and North Okanagan for several years and adding to their fleet and extending services to the South Okanagan is a natural fit, said Birgit Santana.

Let’s Go started as a shuttle service out of Los Angeles International Airport several years ago and expanded to the Okanagan Valley three years ago.

Many of the stakeholders praised and thanked Robert Linttell, the SOCC’s transportation chair, for spearheading the efforts to bring partners together to make this shuttle service a reality.

Linttell said he’s thrilled the service is now available and he’s confident residents across the South Okanagan are going to use the service.

Being able to jump on a shuttle bus in Osoyoos and not have to worry about getting to Kelowna International Airport or pay for parking while you’re away is something many people are going to take advantage of, he said.

“The biggest advantage in all of this is it will connect the entire region … and then connect residents from the South Okanagan to the rest of the world through our international airport,” he said.

To reserve a spot on the shuttle service, go online and access www.letsgotransportation.ca.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

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