When Kurt Schram and his family first visited Whitefish, he wanted to make every second count.
That meant more time spent on trails and less time traveling between downtown bike shops and trailheads, and less time looking for parking at some of the city’s busier locations.
This desire, he figures, wasn’t unique to his family, so upon moving to Whitefish in August, Schram set out to launch Whitefish Shuttle.
“We’re essentially an Uber service for hikers and bikers. We’re really trying to focus on helping visitors take advantage of their time here and get them to where they want to go,” Schram said. “We understand that vacation time is precious, and you don’t want to be sitting around waiting for a public bus to come, and you don’t want transfers or connections.”
Whitefish Shuttle, which begins running this spring, will offer a variety of ride options based on its niche — hiking and biking.
Those looking for a bike ride from one of the Whitefish Trail trailheads can get a ride on one of the regularly scheduled routes from Great Northern Cycle and Ski or Glacier Cyclery and Nordic, both downtown. The shuttle also picks up from hotels and offers custom chartered rides outside of its scheduled routes.
For those looking to bike the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Schram’s got you covered as well. The shuttle will offer $50 round trip packages that take cyclists from one of the bike shops to Lake McDonald and bring them home afterward.
In addition to hiking and cycling trips, Schram said the bus is also available for custom trips downtown or up to the resort.
“People will be able to basically charter our van. We’ll come and pick you and your family up and whatever you want to do — if you want to mountain bike locally and go to Glacier in the afternoon then go out to dinner, we’ll be able to take up to 14 passengers”
The shuttle can carry as many bikes as well.
Schram said so far he’s received various thoughts on how his business will fare in the coming summer.
“One person says, ‘You’re going to be booked all summer long by families from Iron Horse.’ Other people think the mountain biking part is going to be busy. So it really depends,” he says.
“I think people at first were a little bit nervous that we were congesting the trails, but in my view, we’re going to be removing cars from the parking lots and also spreading people out. Most people today will just go to Lion Mountain Trailhead. If that’s packed, as it usually is, we can take them out to Beaver Lakes, for example. So I think we’re going to be helping to alleviate some of the congestion around here,” he added.
Whitefish Shuttle will also operate in the winter, taking passengers around to local trails and Glacier for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and fat-biking trips.
Right now Schram operates one shuttle, but he’s got another on the way as well as a Huckwagon mountain bike trailer, capable of carrying more bikes out to local trailheads.
Down the road, he says a third shuttle could be in the cards, as well as trips to other popular destinations like Glacier Park International Airport.
But right now, Schram says the priority is on keeping his scope narrow and focused on the niche he found himself in as a visitor — the hiker/biker looking to spend their time on the trails.
“You spend a ton of dough to get here in the summer. You’ve got your kids, you want to get to where you want to go and you don’t want three stops between here and there. You don’t want to wait at a bus stop for a half hour,” he said. “We’re really trying to focus on helping visitors take advantage of their time here and get them to where they want to go. There’s taxi businesses, but I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to carry 14 bikes somewhere.”
More information on Whitefish Shuttle is available at www.whitefishshuttle.com or by calling 212-0080.