Kelly Sullivan/The AS Review

This winter as students are heading up the Mt. Baker Highway to the snow and ice-covered slopes of Mt. Baker, many are looking for cheap transportation to offset the high price of day and season passes. This winter the Associated Students Outdoor Center has rented out Bellair Charters buses to transport students from campus to the mountain.

The service will be available Jan. 22, Feb. 13, Feb. 26, Mar. 12, Mar. 20 and April 2. The bus leaves from the Viking Union parking lot at 7:30 a.m., and makes a second pick-up in the K-Mart parking lot on Sunset Drive for Whatcom Community College students at 7:45 a.m. The drive takes about two hours.

Seats on the bus are available to Western and Whatcom students for $22 a ride, and $25 for the extended Bellingham community.

Outdoor Center Marketing Resources Coordinator Hillary Landers helped organize the new service. “It’s a good deal,” she said. “There are plush seats, and you don’t have to drive.”

Ideally, in the future the bus will ride to the mountain every weekend, Landers said. She believes there is definitely a demand for it from Western’s ski and snowboard community. Mount Baker “is a gem of Bellingham,” she said.

“We’re always trying to expand our program and upgrade our services,” said OC Recreational Director Frederick Collins.

The OC is also offering a 20 percent discount on all of their equipment for any students taking the Bellair Charters bus.

The new service is expected to be more user-friendly with centralized departure locations, and easier on students’ pocketbooks.

The bus needs a minimum of 35 people to register, otherwise the bus will not run that weekend, Collins said. Several buses can be rented each weekend depending on demand, he said.

The Bellair Charters bus will be available for six weekends during the 2011 winter quarter. Students must sign up ahead of time at the Outdoor Center to reserve seats.