Rouge Express provides free ride to newest national park

Going to a national park will be easier than ever this summer.

Beginning on Canada Day a free shuttle bus service operated by the non-profit Parkbus will depart twice a day from Yonge Street and College Street in downtown Toronto. The Canada 150 Rouge Express will take nature lovers 30 kilometres to visit the 79.1 square kilometre Rouge Urban National Park in the northeast part of the city.

The new shuttle bus comes as Rouge finally became a national park, the first urban park in the country to achieve the status. The legislation had long been championed by local environmentalists and advocacy groups.

The Rouge Express will arrive just in time to celebrate the park's new status, and Canada 150.

"We think it's a great initiative," says Jessica Turchet, the environmental project coordinator for Friends of the Rouge.

"We are all about people using the park responsibly," Turchet added, explaining park-goers should use the marked trails and be respectful of the environment.

The park has frequently been promoted for its proximity to millions of residents.

But for Torontonians who don't have access to a car, the shuttle bus should provide a way to take advantage of the park.

"It's a great day trip out of the city," says Turchet.

The shuttle bus also comes in time for Canada 150 programming. Attractions include Canada-themed trivia, a novelty-sized birthday card for the country, and a scavenger hunt for kids to find the park's mascot, Parka.

Park-goers can reserve their tickets for a refundable deposit of $5. At least 50 per cent of the seats on the bus will be available on a first come-first serve basis.

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