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  • Yuba Bus charters a new path

    Shuttle service gets traction in its second year


    Stacy Drake

    Nevada City Advocate 


    While on a family outing to the Highway 49 Crossing of the South Fork of the Yuba River, a comment born out of frustration about the lack of safe parking near the river by Kathy Dotson spawned an enterprising idea.

    The question of “why isn’t there a shuttle service to the river?” was addressed by her husband, Brett, who would partner with Dave Preston, aka “Preston,” in 2016. They purchased a 20-passenger ADA compliant shuttle bus and then designed the exterior with a simple, clean look that reflects  the community and the river. The Yuba Bus was born.

    But that was only the beginning of their journey.

    They then met with Nevada County officials, SYRCL, Bear Yuba Land Trust, the State Parks division, Nevada City’s city planner, the California Highway Patrol and the local sheriff, police and fire districts to learn if they had met all the requirements needed to offer a shuttle service to the South Yuba River State Park and state Highway 49 Crossing.

    They were excited and looking forward to a robust 2017 summer season.

    But they then hit a bump in the road in the form of the state’s Public Utilities Commission, which requires a Charter and Shuttle license that would take nine months of constant work and monitoring to receive. Finally, in October 2017, they were allowed to roll. But since the sun had set on the summer, they wanted to find a way make the most of the off-season.

    So, they reached out to SYRCL and offered their bus to help with the Nevada City nonprofit’s river clean-up events. They also provided a shuttle service for this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival, taking movie-goers between Nevada City and Grass Valley.

    Through all their stops and starts, Brett and Preston found time to step back and look at the bigger picture and fine-tune their business plan. 

    “The aim of our service has always been to promote safe and responsible recreation. We will hand out biodegradable bags to all passengers when they leave the bus at the river so they can pack their trash back out. We make it an experience and do the tour guide presentations about the area as people are being shuttled around.” Brett said.

    “The visitor population to the Yuba has doubled in the last five years, so we promote being good river stewards to make our Yuba River safe and enjoyable for locals and visitors alike.” Preston added. “Brett does the on-bus entertainment. I do the driving.”

    They also sit in on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors River Safety Committee and work with the Parks Service and county supervisors to make the river safer for visitors. 

    For river-goers, Nevada City is designating a pick-up location for Yuba Bus passengers in front of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce building at Robinson Plaza on Coyote Street. Tickets for a round-trip ride are available online and at Harmony Books next to the Chamber office. Hours for the shuttles will be Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the last shuttle to the river leaving at 4 p.m. and the last return trip at 5:30 p.m. There will also be pick up points at the Inn Town Campground and the Rood Center. 

    The circuit will run every hour on the hour for pick-up to the river and every hour on the half hour to return from the river. They also offer family, children and senior discounts and sell weekly, monthly and season passes.

    Aside from river and in-town special event excursions, Yuba Bus is available for private party charters to San Francisco Giants games, wine tours, craft beer tours and weddings. According to Preston, there are over 250 weddings in the area each year. Yuba Bus provides ongoing pick up and drop off services between local hotels and wedding venues like Miners Foundry in Nevada City and the Empire Mine and Foothills Event Center in Grass Valley.

    Preston and Brett are now working with local bicycle enthusiasts to establish a shuttle service from Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop in Nevada City to the Harmony Ridge mountain biking trails. They will also offer a shuttle service circuit for one-way downhill riders up to White Cloud, Scott’s Drop and Hoot Trail.

    “We want to give back and be a partner with our community for providing safe and responsible enjoyment of all our area has to offer,” Brett said. “The fact is our Yuba River is now known to everyone; it is no longer our local secret. 

    We make sure through all our charters and shuttles to the river and elsewhere that our passenger’s experience is safe and fun. When we do craft beer tours we make sure all passengers are not driving upon return and that they have someone to pick them up. That is how important our passengers safety is to us, even after they have left the bus. We intend to be an asset to our community for years to come.”

    A Crowdfunding account will be made public in May to help pay for a second vehicle – hopefully electric.

    For more information about Yuba Bus and its services, visit yubabus.com, email info@yubabus.com or call 530-517-8272. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @yubabus. 

    About the photo:   

    The Yuba Bus parked at the drop off point at the Highway 49 Crossing at the South Fork of the Yuba River.

    Photo submitted by Yuba Bus