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Hop on South Shuswap Rides for free

Rides are provided by volunteers
Board members and volunteer drivers at the launch of our second electric vehicle the Tesla Y at Tirecraft on Jan 26, 2024. (

Some South Shuswap residents are getting a free ride when they need it.

South Shuswap Rides is a service provided by the volunteer South Shuswap Transportation Society.

Recognizing that many people in their area were unable to get out and about, a group of volunteers formed the society in 2020.

Society president Paul Demenok and vice-president Kirk Irwin brought Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors up to speed on their operations and rapid growth at the March 21 board meeting in Salmon Arm.

In his opening remarks, Irwin praised dispatcher Darlene Duxbury for meeting the challenge of working with drivers and residents to organize rides in Electoral Areas C and G.

“This is a project that personally I take a lot of satisfaction from, it’s very rewarding to be involved with helping out people the way we have been able to do here,” said Demenok, who took over the presentation. “I think this is volunteerism at its best.”

In 2023, 867 volunteer hours were contributed by 23 volunteer drivers who have undergone driving and criminal record checks and safety training. The number of trained and vetted volunteer drivers is expected to reach close to 30 in the near future.

The popular and highly appreciated service provides convenient, door-to-door transportation in the two electoral areas from 8 a.m. to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. In 2023, 300 rides, a 27 per cent increase over 2022, totalled 25,723 kilometres.

Trips to local destinations, including Salmon Arm, allow for multiple stops for shopping, while rides to Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops are for medical needs only.

Society members were excited to purchase a second electric vehicle, thanks to grant funding from the federal government, SASCU, CSRD and the Shuswap Community Foundation//Sorrento and Area Community Health Centre. Demenok said the society was pleased to negotiate a storage agreement with Sorrento Tirecraft for both vehicles.

The society was at full capacity with the first vehicle, a Chevy Bolt, for out-of-town trips, particularly in winter when cold weather reduces battery capacity by 20 to 40 per cent.

As many of the rides originate in rural areas, all-wheel or four-wheel drive was needed to enhance safety, and a larger EV better accommodates shoppers and their folding wheelchairs or walkers.

Following the presentation Area G director Natalya Melnychuk said she attended an FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) presentation on rural transportation last year on the need for a multi-pathway approach in rural transportation.

“We have BC transit but we know in a rural context that transit is not exactly the best fit for people who may have accessibility issues, may need access around certain appointments, or are out in the bush and can’t access the service,” she said. “I greatly appreciate that there has been a creative solution for this type of service in the South Shuswap, particularly in Area G.”

South Shuswap rides can be accessed online at or by calling 250-463- 4341, 24 hours or more in advance. Drivers and riders sign a statement of understanding regarding the service and expected behaviour. Transportation is free, but the society gratefully accepts donations to help reduce costs.

While the society works hard to keep residents of Electoral Areas C and G on the move, they do not offer airport service, after-hours/safe rides home or daily commuting, and all residents are encouraged to support local businesses whenever possible.

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