Not one round-trip has been missed since Fritz Keller started running a West Kootenay-to-Kelowna bus line last fall.
His service, Silver City Stage Lines, is operating better than expected six days a week, and there’s no end in sight, he says.
“We are in it for the long haul,” Keller told the Rossland News. “People are really happy for our service, and it’s very much needed. That’s the reason I applied in the first place, I knew how much it meant to a lot of people.”
The News contacted Keller to debunk a rumour circulating on social media, and within the community, that he was no longer providing the service.
Keller says his company has not missed one run from the region to Kelowna since the bus connector hit the highway on Oct. 28, as a way to meet local demand after Greyhound Canada closed shop.
“We have no plans to shut down,” he emphasized. “We have run every day since we started and we are doing very well, especially out of Nelson. They are supporting us big time over there, so that’s good too.”
An average of 20 people use the $75-per-seat service [one-way], though business picks up on the holidays.
Over Christmas and into the new year, Keller had two buses running on certain days to keep up with demand.
“I am really happy with these numbers,” he said. “We haven’t had to leave anybody behind, and we are on time 99 per cent of the time.”
The 14-passenger bus runs Sunday to Friday and on this side of the pass, picks up passengers at set times from A&W restaurants in Trail, Castlegar and Nelson.
Stops for fuel and a leg-stretch are scheduled at gas stations from Grand Forks to Rock Creek. The bus then stops at Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna by noon and it heads back to the Kootenays at 1 p.m.
“Our regular passengers are mostly seniors, but we also have lots of students out of Nelson taking the bus,” Keller said. “We have our unique client base now, so we are doing really well.”
As far as winter driving, Keller has another full-time professional on shift and spare drivers on-call for back up, so the snow hasn’t been much hindrance this season.
“We had some nasty days going up the Rossland Hill, Strawberry Pass and the Nancy Greene,” Keller said. “But we have a good bus, the best tires we can get, and we are professional drivers, so it’s not a big deal.”
Ticket bookings for Silver City Stage Lines can only be done online. For information on the schedules and to pick a seat, visit fritztravels.com.