Ottawa campers who don't own vehicles have a new option to get to Algonquin Park.


The Parkbus pilot project runs in Ottawa until mid-October. (CBC)

A bus shuttle service launched in Ottawa Friday takes campers and all of their equipment to the park.

The non-profit service called Parkbus receives financial support from the province and has been running in Toronto for four years. The Ottawa pilot project will run until mid-October and could continue if it's successful.

A round trip costs about $84. There are two pick-up points in the city: one at the Rideau Centre and the other at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Westboro.

On Friday, the shuttle had about 20 riders. Some weekends in August are already sold out, according to the founder, Boris Issaev.

Geared toward people without access to vehicles

The service is geared toward people that don't own or have access to vehicles.

"We came well equipped," said Lizzie Bratton, a student at the University of Ottawa who used the shuttle Friday.

"There's no other way we could have gotten there," said Bratton, who's travelling with a friend. "We have no cars … and we're not old enough to rent a car because we're not 25."

Jess Haskell, another camper who used the bus, is from the United Kingdom and has been travelling alone across Canada for months. A hike through Algonquin Park was on her to-do list but she said carpooling was tricky to arrange and that renting a car was expensive.

Haskel said the shuttle fare is more manageable.

"Where I'm from we have a lot of public transportation out to parks," said Haskell, "and in Canada it really needs to improve, so this is really exciting."

Issaev is originally from Russia, and he said he found it strange while growing up in Canada that such a service wasn't offered.

"It exists in Europe," said Issaev. "I went to school in France and have seen how easy it is to go camping on a bus."

He decided to start the service in Ottawa after being contacted by local residents about it.