The back of a van with the words Sunshine Coast Shuttle written on it

qathet’s get-around gang: what works, what doesn’t

Editor’s Note: While Cortes and Quadra Islands discuss alternate forms of transportation, it is of interest to see what another community in our broadcast area is doing.

Originally published on qathet Living

BC Transit Powell River

Public service funded by fares, the Province of BC, the City, qathet Regional District, and Tla’amin Nation. Administered by BC Transit. 

Advantage: Cheap and consistent. You can go from Saltery Bay to Lund and everywhere in between for $2.25, and to Texada for $8, including the ferry fare. Kids 12 and under travel free. The HandiDART system, also $2.25 a ride, offers door to door service for people with mobility challenges. 

Disadvantage: Service outside the City can be spotty. For example, in the winter, the #14 bus to and from Lund operates just Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, with two trips north per day, and two south. Within the City limits, the buses can be infrequent. They leave a gap in service between the late evening and early morning. HandiDART operates 8 am to 4 or 5 pm weekdays, 9 am to 5 pm Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays. 

Learn more:

Zunga Bus

Public on-demand service funded by fares, occasional grants, City revenues and the City’s Climate Action Reserve Fund. Administered by the City, but unfunded from now through March.

Advantage: Cheap taxi-like service. For $2.25, Zunga offers door-to-door service via a booking system. You can call or use the app to arrange a ride. 

Disadvantage: Extremely limited availability. Zunga Bus runs from 11 am to 6:30 pm, seven days a week ​– ​​only in Westview. And with Council’s decision on Dec. 21, the pilot project is cancelled at least through March.

Learn more:

Sunshine Coast Connector

Private bus service between Earl’s Cove and Langdale ferry terminals. Funded by fares and the occasional government grant. Based in Sechelt. 

Advantage: This is the only ground service that will get qathet humans to Vancouver. The only other options are private car, flights, or boats. A non-refundable, one-way ticket is $60 (plus the cost of the ferry, and potentially connecting public buses on either end). As of 2021, BC Transit has permanently extended the link between Saltery Bay and Powell River, so you can take connecting buses all the way from Lund to Downtown Vancouver. 

Disadvantage: Service is extremely limited. The Connector ran for eight days over the holidays in December, with one trip in each direction per day. The bus doesn’t run when there’s snow or ice on the roads.

Learn more:

Powell River Taxi

Private taxi service owned and operated locally. 

Advantage: You can call for a ride anywhere on the mainland of the Upper Sunshine Coast. PR Taxi has recently extended its hours to 1 am weekends. 

Disadvantage: Service has been limited over the last few years as this company ​– ​​like many others ​– ​​struggles to find enough drivers. 

Learn more:

Coastal Rides

A private, on-demand, Uber-like service based in Sechelt. Currently serves the Lower Coast, Comox Valley, Campbell River and Fort St. John, with limited service in qathet. 

Advantage: Door-to-door service. Book a ride through the website. Offers private, shared, group, and accessible rides. 

Disadvantage: The operator hasn’t been able to find drivers here who have been willing to provide consistent service. 

Learn more:

Sunshine Coast Shuttle

A locally-owned and operated private charter company offering rides into the backcountry and ​– ​​newly ​– ​​around the City and the region. 

Advantage: This service will get you, your buddies, and your bikes just about anywhere. They will also re-supply you when you’re in the backcountry, and more. 

Disadvantage: Cost-prohibitive as a replacement for a private vehicle. 

Learn more:

Top image credit: Former CFL guard Jesse Newman (BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders) started Sunshine Coast Shuttle after he returned to his hometown nearly a decade ago, and started volunteering with qPAWS. His fleet of seven-passenger SUVs and a 21-passenger van and new 15-passenger van can take adventurers, and their gear, not only into the backcountry, but also around town. Summer is his busy season. “I have no trouble finding drivers,” said Jesse. “I used to drive for the School District, and it’s a great group to snag excellent drivers from. They don’t work in the summer.” Jesse is thinking about offering a regular scheduled service, rather than just charter. – Photo courtesy of Motive Media

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