The Wilson’s Group, owner of Tofino Bus, believes a solution could be on the way after the company suspended the service indefinitely earlier this month amid COVID-19 struggles.
Tofino Bus, which was acquired by Wilson’s Group of Companies back in 2018, was scheduled to resume operation on February 12 but opted against a restart as the company dealt with the possibility of permanent closure.
The Wilson’s Group says it asked for a one-year emergency COVID recovery contract from the Ministry of Transportation to cover operating costs but was unable to secure any financial support.
Although Tofino Bus provides an essential transportation service, as a privately-owned company it does not qualify for the same government subsidies as public transit, depending on ticket sales to cover costs.
Now, a glimmer of hope appears to be emerging for the Tofino Bus service as Wilson’s says it’s optimistic that “a solution is on the horizon.”
“We continue to be in positive discussions with Minister Fleming around a solution to the issues we are facing,” says John Wilson, President and CEO of The Wilson’s Group. “While we continue to wait for exact details from the provincial government, we are feeling optimistic about being
able to resume some sort of service as we head into the spring season.”
The positive conversations with the Ministry of Transportation come following an outpouring of community support, according to the company.
Since announcing that Tofino Bus was in jeopardy, Wilson’s says it has received “upwards of 40 letters,” of support from community leaders, including mayors, First Nations leaders and businesses.
The company also highlights that a change.org petition was created for the intercity bus service and has garnered over 12,000 signatures.
“The amount of support that we have received has been amazing!” says Samantha Wilson, Brand Manager for The Wilson’s Group. “We have always known how vital our services are to the communities which we serve and it has been incredibly heartwarming to receive such positive messages of support both for our business but also for the members of these communities to ensure they continue to have access to a safe mode of transportation.”
The company feels that the “collective voice has certainly been heard,” and there have been some “definite steps” taken towards a possible solution with the Ministry of Transportation.
Although it appears this is a positive sign for those in support of the service, John Wilson notes that there is “much more work to be done” before Tofino Bus can resume operations.