When Greyhound discontinued its western Canada bus service last October, it was devastating news for people who live outside major urban areas.
Luckily for people who want to travel through the Fraser Canyon, Cariboo-Chilcotin and Kamloops districts of northern British Columbia, Adventure Charters Inter-City Bus Service is filling the void. Not only does Adventure Charters offer charter bus services for schools, businesses, government and tourism operators, it also has regularly scheduled shuttle services that link the Lower Mainland to Prince George — and points in between — several times a week.
“When you live in a smaller community you don’t always have the access to opportunities you’d get in a bigger city,” says Janna Gertzen, co-owner of the family-run company. “Some smaller rural communities don’t always have access to doctors, specialists, support services, or shopping. People still need to be connected and have access to those really vital aspects of a good life.”
Janna was born and raised in Williams Lake, where residents are accustomed to “zipping down” to Kamloops or Prince George for appointments.
If you don’t have a vehicle, however, that becomes an impossible task and, for many of these communities, there are no other options. There is no train service and flights are both expensive and daunting, especially for seniors.
“If there’s no bus service going through these little communities, then they’re cut off,” Gertzen says. “This service is especially important to the communities farther north of Prince George. The Cariboo has been a ghost town of bus service since Greyhound ceased operations.”
She also notes the service is vital to the communities in the Fraser Canyon as no other bus company currently travels that route.
Many passengers are seniors from the northern part of the province whose families have moved to the Lower Mainland, as well as students attending college in the Lower Mainland returning home to Kamloops or points north of Prince George. They’d struggle to maintain connection without the Adventure Charters’ bus service, which allows them to travel without the stress of driving. The service is also a reliable and affordable option when they have appointments in a larger centre.
It's why Adventure Charters prides itself on “connecting communities”.
The Gertzens bought Adventure Charters & Bus Service in 2011. Randy, whose family has been part of the Williams Lake community for decades, started his driving career behind the wheel of a logging truck 40 years ago. He was noticed by the management team at Lignums Ltd. when he was dispatcher for trucks hauling into their mill. He was soon offered a position away from the wheel and behind a desk, which gave him insight into administration and finances. Today he’s earned a reputation as a well-known, professionally respected, highly experienced and results-orientated professional.
Often asked why they can sustain a profitable bus service while Greyhound failed, Janna explains that Adventure Charters isn’t encumbered by having to maintain depots and large coach buses. Her company’s fleet contains seven buses ranging in size from 14 to 55 passengers and includes both rugged and hardworking buses for trips off the main roads and cozy and comfortable ones for the longer journeys.
These are the scheduled routes:
- Surrey to Prince George every Tuesday and Friday, and return trips from Prince George to Surrey on Mondays and Thursdays
- Kamloops to Prince George and Prince George to Kamloops every Monday and Thursday
“As ridership builds we can add more runs and days and start filling out that schedule to offer more service,” she says.
The Gertzens are proud of what the company has been able to achieve. “We are a smaller company, so our passengers get a very personalized service. We’re flexible, we’re nimble, we’re viable,” she says. “We get great feedback about our drivers and our buses are extremely comfortable.”
“Passengers also like that we’re quicker than Greyhound. We do have scheduled breaks, but unless a passenger has made reservations for a specific rural community, we don’t stop in every town. That shaves time off of what used to be a really long run.”