WASAGAMING — A horrifying drunk driving accident near Riding Mountain National Park in 2009 sparked a shuttle service that has become a park staple.
Nikita Shavrette, 25, opened Shuttle Bug in July 2010 after her friend slammed into a telephone pole going 60 km/h in the Onanole area.
"It was tragic," Shavrette said. "Her face was ripped apart, her cheeks were split."
Nineteen-year-old Kim Chuba survived, and opened Shavrette’s eyes to the situation in the area. There were no transportation alternatives for residents, cottagers and campers.
"Before there were no services," Shavrette said. "Everybody drank and drove."
What started with one handivan and funded by donations quickly expanded into a family-run business with a fleet of four buses and vans, and a staff of close to 10.
While making sure partiers get home safe, Shuttle Bug also offers tours of the park for bird watching and guided trail walks, and provides charter services to some of the countless weddings and other celebrations in the park.
The service also offers shuttles from Onanole to anywhere in Manitoba.
On a busy night, around 250 people will use the shuttle service to get to and from bars in the RMNP area.
Shavrette quickly became well-known in the area after starting the service. She said park officials and the RCMP are happy to see her on the road since drunk driving instances have dramatically decreased.
"It does make me feel great, and a lot of parents thank me so much because they don’t want their kids walking all over the place."
René and Alyssa Allard of Winnipeg, who got married on Saturday, used the service, which they say is now ubiquitous with the park.
"We come up here every year for camping and golf, and we’ve seen Shuttle Bugs running around, but we haven’t used them," René said. "But when we decided we were coming up for our wedding, this was the best option.
"It’s just one thing off our list, that we don’t have to worry about people getting home safe."