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Guelph brings back the beer bus

A southwest Canadian city is making the most of its return to a post-COVID world without social distancing requirements as its beer bus service is becoming incredibly popular among locals.

It’s been the dream of many to run a beer bus. In the Canadian city of Guelph in southwest Canada, a local group is making it a reality.

It all started in the town known as the ‘Royal City’.

When Guelph.Beer, a unique association of Guelph commercial brewers, reached out to the local operator Guelph Transit in May 2019, it wanted to increase the popularity of the city’s breweries.

The idea of a beer bus sought to boost companies like Canada’s oldest independently owned microbrewery in the Guelph-based Wellington Brewery. The brewery joined with Fixed Gear Brewing, Sleeman Brewing, Brothers Brewing and Royal City Brewing Co to create Guelph.Beer. The group then looked to partner with Guelph Transit in providing free shuttles to local breweries.

“The beer bus idea is about creating a route and schedule based on participating local breweries offering free, environmentally friendly and safe transportation to patrons,” Guelph Transit market development and sales coordinator Jess Taylor told ABC. “The idea offers the flexibility for patrons to choose their own adventure at their own pace, offering pick-ups every half hour throughout the fixed route.”

By providing a free and accessible bus trip to the various companies, the bus trip ensures Guelph citizens can enjoy a booze-filled journey around the city’s best breweries.

Guelph Transit says the beer bus has quickly grown in recent years to expand the reach of both Guelph Transit and the Guelph.Beer network.

“Guelph Transit is proud to share the success of this event to support local businesses and provide safe and reliable services to those using it,” Taylor says. “We have inspired other Transit agencies to look into doing similar events in their communities.”

Guelph Transit runs the bus for free, collecting donations to support a different charity on each Guelph.Beer Bus day.

Taylor says the operator ensures safety and customer satisfaction remains at the forefront of the novel bus journey.

“Safety is also a key consideration that the organisers and Guelph Transit emphasise,” Taylor says. “Guelph.Beer has volunteers on every bus to enhance the experience and assist in keeping the experience enjoyable and safe.”

The Guelph operator and its brewery group is offering tours once a month from April to December throughout 2022 in the Canadian summer. Recently, the bus service has expanded to later in the year than previous years to meet customer demand and offer more events.

It’s a fitting reward for the efforts both Guelph Transit and Guelph.Beer have put in recently to ensure the bus service has a future post-COVID in the Canadian city.

“We have worked hard to comply with regulations as they have changed over the past two years,” Taylor says. “When we began the 2022 season, masks were still required on public transit. That requirement has since been lifted.

“These events have helped these local breweries regain patrons and we are happy to support them in returning to pre-pandemic operations.”

With the Guelph.Beer Bus’s extended season in full swing, Taylor says there are plans to continue expanding the service. With the unique idea clearly becoming a popular day out for Guelph locals, both Guelph Transit and Guelph.Beer are already looking forward to an even busier schedule in 2023.

“Operators have said they enjoy driving these charters because they’re a fun way of spending a Saturday afternoon,” Taylor says. “Our Canadian winters are a consideration to keep in mind, but we’ve extended this season to end later this year.

“We hope to make an informed decision on possibly expanding to monthly events all year round in 2023.” 

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