At 24, Meg White decided it was time to go carless.
A conscious idealist who wanted to live more in line with her environmental values, White, a Seattle resident, opted to walk, bike and take the bus everywhere she went.
It was a transformative experience, she said, and nearly two decades later — still without a car — she is trying to help give that experience to others.
Last year, White founded To the Mountain Shuttle, a bus company aiming to provide a green, car-free way to get people out to Snoqualmie Pass.
Using a few retired school buses, the shuttle provides a novel option for Seattle and Bellevue residents to get out on the trails and slopes.
While Snoqualmie Pass brings in millions of annual visitors for snow sports, hiking, biking and rock climbing, getting there without a personal vehicle has always been a challenge. Public bus service is virtually nonexistent and there is only one other major company providing rides.
Despite the need, White, a weekend ski instructor on Snoqualmie Pass for the last 16 years, didn’t start developing her bus company until a few years ago.
Working her main gig as a freelance programmer for several small oncology companies, White saw her contracts all suddenly dry up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of starting over and searching for new clients, the sudden unemployment gave her other ideas.
“I decided I wanted a big change,” she recalled. “So I thought I’d start a bus up to the mountains.”
Leaning on several friends and colleagues, including one experienced truck driver, White “made a huge leap,” learning the ins-and-outs of the public transportation industry and building confidence.
Then, in November, she simultaneously launched shuttles for the public and Summit at Snoqualmie employees.
During last year’s ski season, the shuttle made daily runs starting from Husky Stadium in Seattle. Currently, the bus is running its first summer season, making stops for “mountain biking at exit 20, rock climbing at exit 38 and hiking at 47,” White said. Further expansion, including a longer winter and summer season and possible fall destinations, are also being considered.
The bus can transport up to 40 people. While the bus already gets some cars off the road, they are also looking at other ways to cut their carbon footprint, White said. The company is working to get the bus to run on bio-fuel, partnering with Dan’s Biodiesel in Seattle, she said.
It’s all in service of getting people in touch with nature in the cleanest way possible.
“I love our bus,” White said. “I get to go up to the mountain all the time and meet people from all around the world.”