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Council delays final decision about supporting marketing fund for new shuttle service
The shuttle service, which will pick up and drop off passengers between the Kelowna International Airport and Osoyoos – and many stops in between including in downtown Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton, Okanagan Falls and Oliver – is scheduled to begin the first week in June.
Robert Linttell, the acting transportation chair with the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce (SOCC), made a presentation to Osoyoos councillors on Monday asking them to make a contribution to a marketing fund that will be used to help promote the new service once it is operational in June.
The Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association (TOTA) would manage the marketing fund and none of the money would be given to the private transportation company that wins the bid to provide the shuttle service, said Linttell.
Mayor Stu Wells complimented Linttell and members of the South Okanagan Transportation Advisory Committee (SOGTA), which was formed by the SOCC and TOTA last fall after it was agreed a shuttle service for this region would proceed.
Because Destination Osoyoos’ (DO) board has been handed the contract to not only market the Town of Osoyoos as a prime tourist destination, but also to be directly responsible for economic development, he wanted to find out what the DO board would be willing to donate to this marketing fund before council would make any decision on whether or not to add its own funds or how much, said Wells.
Linttell was scheduled to meet with the Destination Osoyoos board of directors on Monday afternoon following his presentation to town council.
The committee’s vision is to offer a transportation service that has functional schedules, affordable fares and offers safe, reliable service to everyone in the South Okanagan, said Linttell.
The Request For Proposal envisions four coaches travelling the route between Kelowna and Osoyoos each day, with two starting in Osoyoos and travelling north and two other coaches departing from the Kelowna airport heading south, he said.
The winning bidder will determine final departing and arriving schedules in communities with input provided by communities, management at the Kelowna International Airport and the SOGTA committee, he said.
The name of the shuttle service has tentatively been branded as the South Okanagan Express and additional promotion and marketing will be required to ensure its success in the first few months, he said.
“While all community service groups like the chamber and service clubs will be asked to promote the service in their local community, funds will be needed to aid the start up of the shuttle service,” he said. “To assist the winning bidder with proper implementation, it is SOGTA’s objective to raise a minimum $50,000 start-up marketing and promotion fund … such funds will not be used to directly supplement the bidder.
Linttell said he is making similar presentations to all town and city councils affected by the shuttle service. He is asking all communities with a population of more than $5,000 to contribute between $10,000 and $15,000 and communities with less than 5,000 to contribute between $5,000 and $7,500.
Private sector companies that will benefit from the shuttle service are also being asked to contribute between $5,000 and $7,500.
The shuttle service is going to attract numerous customers, including workers seeking new employment in the region and those hired to work on the new correctional facility in Oliver, students travelling to and from school, seniors who don’t want to drive, and residents looking to access key services in other communities, he said.
It will also attract leisure travellers who would rather not drive their own vehicle and those who want to get to the airport in Kelowna and not have to drive there and pay for parking, said Linttell.
It’s estimated 180,000 people between Penticton and Osoyoos travelled to catch flights out of Kelowna International last year, he said.
Coun. Sue McKortoff said while she strongly supports the shuttle service and believes it will be a success, she also wanted to see the commitment of the DO board before council makes any final decision on providing financial support for a marketing plan.