Golden Ears Express is a free but service running from Vancouver to Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

Free shuttle connects Vancouverites with nature in Maple Ridge park

Starting July 7 Parkbus will be operating a free bus service to Golden Ears Park

Golden Ears Provincial Park is going to be busier this summer with free shuttles running to the park from Vancouver, skipping the long lines of traffic.

Parkbus, a non-profit founded in 2010 to connect city dwellers to nature through accessible transportation options, launched the free shuttle on July 4.

The company already offers bus rides from Vancouver to five other provincial parks, but with a fee. It also operates community nature and outdoor programs like ActiveDays and NatureLink. Parkbus programs are run by BEST, a non-profit charitable organization out of Vancouver promoting sustainable transportation.

This is the first, free shuttle that is available, with sponsorship by Mountain Equipment Co-op and TD-Canada Trust.

“That’s going to be a completely free service because we recognize that not everybody can afford a bus ticket,” said Parkbus co-founder Boris Issaev.

“Golden Ears Park is a great destination that has a lot of things to do for both the beginners, as well as the experts,” said Issaev about choosing the park for the first of four free shuttles across the country.

Other free shuttles were launched in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

“It has a wide variety of things to do. It’s really great for families. It’s really great for people that just want to relax in nature without specifically going on a strenuous hike,” he said, adding that it also has a lot of amazing back country hikes that are good for somebody with a little bit more experience looking for more of an adventure.

Shuttles will run every Saturday and Sunday starting on July 7 until Sept. 2.

The 46-person capacity school bus will pick up passengers at Burrard Station in Vancouver at 9 a.m. and pick up more at 9:20 a.m. outside MEC along Broadway Street before driving to the park.

Passengers will be dropped off in the Gold Creek parking lot. The bus will then head back to Vancouver at 5 p.m. so participants get a full day at the park.

“Our mission is to make the outdoors space in Canada more accessible. We recognize there are many barriers, transportation is one of them,” said Issaev who is hoping to eventually secure more sponsorship and offer more free rides.

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