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Shuttle service from Osoyoos to Kelowna airport should be fully operational by May
An affordable shuttle service between the Kelowna International Airport and all of the communities located south of Kelowna up to and including Osoyoos is close to becoming a reality.
The final Request For Proposals (RFP) is expected to be finalized by the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce’s (SOCC) board of directors in the next few weeks and the plan is to have the service fully operational by April 1 or May 1 “at the very latest,” said Robert Linttell, who was the SOCC’s transportation chair and is continuing in that position after a new board of directors was announced during last week’s annual general meeting.
“We’re hoping to have the final draft of our RFP approved by the board by the end of this week,” said Linttell.
Once the RFP is approved, it should only take a few weeks for the final contract to be signed and the shuttle service to begin, said Linttell.
“Once we make our final selection, it’s going to take some time for them to acquire the necessary equipment and they’re going to have to hire people and complete all of the logistics necessary to operate the shuttle service,” he said.
If the service can’t be operational for April 1, the board is adamant that it be running by May 1, he said.
With WestJet airlines recently announcing there will be daily flights between Fort McMurray and Kelowna International Airport and the onset of beautiful spring weather, the timing is right to kick off the shuttle service, said Linttell.
Kelowna International Airport has also introduced daily return flights to Los Angeles, which makes the South Okanagan tourist market very attractive to the massive American market, he added.
“If you’re planning a trip through Los Angeles, it’s now very easy to come to Kelowna and access everything we have to offer here in the South Okanagan through the shuttle service we will be offering,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Linttell said one of the biggest challenges in putting together the RFP for this shuttle service is to convince citizens and community leaders that this is “not a shuttle service to Kelowna International Airport, but a transportation service to all of the communities within the South Okanagan.”
The shuttle bus service will make stops in every community between Kelowna and Osoyoos on a daily basis, including stops in downtown Penticton, Penticton Airport, Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos, he said.
“There are still some people out there who believe this is only a shuttle service between the airports in Kelowna and Penticton and that’s simply not the case,” he said. “It’s a true South Okanagan shuttle service.
“It’s not about shuttling people to the airports in Penticton and Kelowna, but allowing people to access any community in the region at a reasonable price and not have to take their own vehicle.”
The RFP clearly states that the shuttle service will have to be affordable in order to attract enough regular users to make it a profitable business.
“It will have to offer an attractive price point to attract as many people as possible,” he said. “Then it will be up to local residents to use it or lose it. It has to be supported or it won’t be around for long.”
Linttell said he personally envisages a one-way ticket from Osoyoos to Kelowna International Airport costing “somewhere between $30 and $40” with a return ticket lowering that price substantially.
He also expects the winning RFP to offer discount packages for those who use the service on a regular basis.
Considering the high price of parking at the Kelowna International Airport and the fact people travelling there would much prefer to leave their own vehicles at home, Linttell is confident the shuttle service is going to be popular with Osoyoos residents.
“I can see everyone from students to workers who have to move back and forth and seniors who don’t want to use their own vehicles to get to the airport using this service,” he said.
The tens of thousands of tourists who visit Osoyoos through the busy tourist season from May to October are also going to be a key target market, he said.
Once the RFP process is finished, the winning company will have to provide a detailed business plan, which will be approved by the SOCC board, said Linttell.
He hopes the winning company will be announced by the end of February or early March and then details about scheduling and the price of tickets can be announced, he said.