Peninsula attractions shuttle launches this summer

After three years of anticipation a shuttle to take tourists around the Peninsula will launch this summer.

The hop-on, hop-off trolley discussion in recent years became a reality as Dave Cowen, general manager of Butchart Gardens, announced the shuttle that will bring people to many of the hot spots on the Saanich Peninsula. He made the announcement during the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Tuesday night in Brentwood Bay.

"One of the constructive pieces of feedback that we've heard … is that, gee, it's awfully difficult to move around Victoria if you don't have a car," Cowen said. "There were a number of us [who thought] that there were a number of other pockets on the Peninsula that deserved access and deserved access at an affordable cost for families. And that was the genesis of our shuttle project."

It will run daily in the peak tourism season of July and August this summer. Cowen has already sussed out support from Victoria hotels.

"They see the Peninsula as a way to extend the stay in Victoria. The downtown hotels don't see the Peninsula as competition, they see it as added value," Cowen said. "This little bus – as simple as it is – is the key to many more things in the future."

The shuttle will do a loop of the Peninsula with stops at Butchart Gardens, Victoria Butterfly Gardens, Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse in Central Saanich; in Sidney at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and on Beacon Avenue where Booktown awaits; and at both the B.C. Ferries terminal in Swartz Bay and the Sidney International Ferry Terminal.

"We have ferry input, we have all of Sidney for people to enjoy and the core attractions," Cowen said. "Over and above that we have the attraction pass."

The pass covers shuttle and admission to two of three major attractions: the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Sea Cider, and Victoria Butterfly Gardens. The pass costs $29.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.

"I think for a first year, out of the gate, it's pretty good. But we need the community's support," Cowen said.

A two-day transportation pass will be $9.95 available on the shuttle, at hotels and attractions.

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