With Cambridge Bay’s population growing, Ziggy’s Enterprises is bringing a 17-passenger bus to the community to begin offering public transit.

Charles Zikalala, owner of Ziggy’s Enterprises along with his partner Chanese Nakoyak, ordered the 2017 model bus from Toronto. It’s expected to be delivered via sealift in late August or early September.

Zikalala said the bus route should make it available around town every half hour. It will operate from 7:30 a.m. until midnight during the work week and fewer hours on weekends, but he still wants to accommodate residents who need to get to and from the airport on Saturdays and Sundays.

“At least people know that there’s alternative transportation that is reliable and people can depend on,” he said.

Although the bus won’t be wheelchair accessible, it will be low enough to the ground that customers with mobility challenges will be able to step on board, according to Zikalala.

Inside, they will find an area to stow their grocery bags or luggage.

Another area of concern that Zikalala hopes to address is getting children to school, particularly during the bitterly cold months. Last winter, there were students not attending classes due to having to walk when the mercury dipped to as low as -60 C with the windchill.

“That was a huge conversation on Facebook in Cambridge Bay,” he said, adding that he’s going to set rates for students and other age groups. “In Iqaluit, they schedule school buses for all the students that pick them up four times a day. I don’t see why we can’t have the same service here in Cambridge Bay.”

Customers will be able to pay for daily, weekly or monthly passes – including by debit card as they board the vehicle.

Two drivers will be hired to fill shifts and ensure the bus shows up on schedule.

Zikalala isn’t new to the transportation sector in the Kitikmeot community. He previously ran a taxi company, but he shut it down in March 2020, partly due to COVID-19 and because he and his family moved to Iqaluit for a while.

He said there were a couple of challenges with the cab service that he will avoid by moving to a bus: having two taxis on the road wasn’t enough to keep up with occasions when several calls for pick up would come in short order, and some customers refused to pay when they got to their destination.

Purchasing and shipping the bus is a substantial investment, but it’s one that Zikalala projects could be paid off in approximately eight months, if the level of demand is where he anticipates it will be.

Keeping the bus maintained mechanically is possible due to Inukshuk Enterprises wielding the know-how, he noted.

Ziggy’s Enterprises also offers food deliveries from various restaurants and takeouts in Cambridge Bay and is involved in the freight and logistics industry.

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