By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A tour bus that will shuttle unsuspecting Crescent City visitors to little-known local attractions may soon become a reality.

andquot;We got a search going on right now for a vehicle that we can get relatively soon,andquot; said Mel Petrie of Paratransit Services. andquot;So long as we can cover our costs, that's the main thing.andquot;

Crescent City Mayor Herb Kolodner mentioned the possibility earlier this week at the Crescent City City Council meeting. Kolodner said he believes many tourists are unaware of the attractions available in the county and a tour bus with a guide will help solve that problem.

andquot;What we're trying to do is get the tourists to remain in the area for more than just staying overnight, eating breakfast and then 'zip' - they're gone,andquot; Kolodner said. andquot;The purpose is to slow them down so they can use the restaurants and use the stores. A lot of these visitors leave without ever realizing what we have to offer here.andquot;

Petrie explained what he believes the project would involve.

andquot;We're knocking some ideas around that involves us supplying the van that will go between hotels, casinos and tourist attractions that will help out the local economy,andquot; said Petrie. andquot;We're going to put together a proposal where we'll try and be creative. That will benefit everybody.andquot;

The envisioned 15-seat van would be driven by someone with knowledge of the area who can explain to the passengers the historical significance and unique qualities of Del Norte County sites.

andquot;The idea isn't totally new - it's been discussed before,andquot; Kolodner said. andquot;It's something we want an entrepreneur to pick up and run with. The city and county will not be involved, it will be totally separate and distinct.andquot;

Kolodner said a preliminary estimate shows the van would cost $40 per hour total to operate. If passengers paid $20 each for a three-hour tour, the van would need at least six passengers per trip to break even.

andquot;There are different ways to maintain the costs,andquot; said Kolodner. andquot;Say, if you have fewer than two people (for the tour) then the van doesn't go out. Or, you can pool money when you have large groups of passengers and that money will offset the costs on lighter days.andquot;

Kolodner said he planned on placing the item on the next Council meeting agenda, which will be held on July 15.

andquot;Hopefully, if this all works out, when the tourists go home they will say to their friends and family, 'Hey, you need to go to Crescent City for a vacation because they have some great tours,andquot; Kolodner said.