Two years ago, a drunk driver heading back from a Blackfoot River float struck and killed a motorcyclist on Highway 200. University of Montana graduate Tobias Bonfiglio remembers passing the crash scene and recognizing the motorcyclist's pair of crushed sunglasses— Bonfiglio had seen the victim purchase that exact pair at the bike shop where Bonfiglio used to work.
"That's actually how it all got started," says Bonfiglio of his new business, Capt'n Trip Shuttle Service, which transports Blackfoot floaters to and from downtown Missoula seven days a week throughout the summer.
Bonfiglio hatched the idea in hopes of providing a safe alternative for sun-drenched and blotto residents looking to return home from the Blackfoot. A first attempt at the business was shut down last summer, but with the purchase of appropriate permits and additional capital from two partners, including his dad, Dan Bonfiglio, Capt'n Trip Shuttle Service launched earlier this summer.
"People like it," says Dan, who drives one of the two biofueled buses. "They get to just get on and don't have to worry about driving—and then they party pretty hard."
A roundtrip to Johnsrud or Whittaker access points runs passengers $12. The shuttle picks up in town every hour from 11:30 until 2:30 at locations throughout downtown—the Zootown Arts Community Center, the Rhino Bar, Army Navy Store, etc.—and then shuttle drivers arrange for pickups based on a group's float plan.
"No one has ever been left behind," says Dan, "I have a reputation for that."
That's a good thing considering why they started the business.
"You can't resist when you're out there," says Dan in regards to drinking on the river. "You might not just be ruining your weekend, but [if you don't get home safely] you might ruin someone else's."