New shuttle aims to offer hop-on, hop-off Nova Scotia service

A new shuttle service called Alternative Routes aims to address a lack of public transit in the province, and show tourists more of what Nova Scotia has to offer, outside of the capital city.

Owner-operator Samantha Bambrick says Alternative Routes will bridge public transit gaps

Samantha Bambrick plans to launch Alternative Routes in early July. (Submitted by Eileen Rapsey)

A new shuttle service called Alternative Routes aims to address a lack of public transit in the province, and show tourists more of what Nova Scotia has to offer, outside of the capital city.

The van will travel a daily loop from Halifax, down the south shore to Bridgewater, then across the province to Middleton, and through the Annapolis Valley to Halifax again. The return trip will take about eight hours, with a half hour stop in Peggys Cove, and hour-long stops in both Lunenburg and Wolfville.

While some people might choose to do the full loop in a day, company founder Samantha Bambrick told CBC's Information Morning it's mostly geared toward travellers who want to hop on and hop off over the course of a few days, staying overnight in communities along the way.

She said that sort of public transit option doesn't exist in Nova Scotia right now. 

"There's nothing really for anyone who wants to stay and explore a little bit more and that's the problem we're trying to solve is actually the ability to take people places and leave them there for a few days and then they can come back whenever they're ready."

Few existing options

Maritime Bus provides service to the Annapolis Valley, but it only goes as far as Kentville. It does not service the south shore at all. Bambrick said tourists can hire private shuttles or rent a car, but those options can be expensive, and you have to know where you want to go.

"We kind of know the province pretty well and places that they'd never get to see other otherwise," she said. There's also a social element, Bambrick said, "you're going to meet other travellers doing the same thing."

"That's the beauty of it," she said. "These services exist all over the world, it's kind of crazy that there isn't one here right now."

Prices vary

Prices for the service range from $70 for a single trip to $120 for a four-day pass where you can hop on or off as many times as you like. There's also a seven day pass, a 14-day pass, and a 21-day pass, as well as an unlimited Halifax return ticket for $500 which has no time limit.

Bambrick, 30 and originally from P.E.I., said she plans to do all the driving, six days a week. That could turn into seven days a week if demand is good, she said, and she's already getting four or five inquiries a day from travellers interested in taking advantage of the service.

"It means we're on the right track, I think," she said.

Plans for expansion

Navigating municipal and provincial regulations has been a challenge, Bambrick said. "Halifax has some silly rules, like I found out I can't leave people in Peggy's Cove because it's still technically Halifax, so I would need a taxi license."

The same problem would apply to much of the eastern shore, she said, which might hamper her plans for expansion.

The ultimate goal is to continue adding new routes, while keeping the prices the same, she said. "I want people to come and leave Nova Scotia feeling like they've seen amazing things because I know that exists here."

Bambrick plans to launch Alternative Routes in early July.

With files from Information Morning