The Liard First Nation is launching a new bus service on Monday for residents of Watson Lake, just weeks after Greyhound’s last journey through the Yukon.
Watson Lake Shuttle and Freight Services will run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, returning the same day. The bus will depart from Tags in Watson Lake at 7 a.m. and return around 4 p.m, making a stop at the Nisutlin trading post in Teslin. The service is open to the public.
“If we’re going to have a new 15-passenger Mercedes-Benz van, we don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be offering that service to the rest of Watson Lake,” said Chief George Morgan.
The shuttle will also serve the communities of Lower Post and Good Hope Lake, B.C.
Morgan said there at least 200 medical trips per month from Watson Lake to Whitehorse. LFN has been busy sorting out insurance and obtaining licenses to transport things like dangerous goods and blood.
“A lot of my members don’t have vehicles,” he said. “So with the Alkan Air (now) pulling out it really is a priority to make sure that our members can get to Whitehorse for medical.”
Both Alkan Air and Greyhound cited a lack of passengers as the reason for cancelling their service to Watson Lake, but Morgan doesn’t think the new company will have the same problem, despite having to reschedule their inaugural trip because no one bought a ticket.
“I think it’s going to take a little bit of time for people to get used to the fact that we’re there,” he said.
The vehicle is much smaller and, he hopes, more affordable to run.
A one-way trip is $149, and $276 return. Special pickups and deliveries at an alternate location can be made for a small fee.
The bus will also transport cargo at additional cost. The route will stop in Whitehorse at the hospital, Yukon Inn and airport.
The Watson Lake shuttle will be the only transit service available to people in Watson Lake once Alkan Air stops flying there in September.
Morgan said there is definitely a need, and combined with hauling freight and serving other communities, the route should be sustainable.
“There’s definitely a big buzz in town…. We think it has a lot of potential.”
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