Tofino Bus and Wilson’s Transportation, two operators of intercity bus services, are receiving a one-time financial boost from the B.C. government in order to remain in operation.
The two Island-based services are among 20 total inter-city bus operators and 55 regional airports that have been approved to receive provincial government funding that will allow for the essential transportation networks to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tofino Bus Services — owned by the Wilson’s Group — is set to receive a one-time investment of $1,152,184.50.
Wilson’s Transportation, who operates the Vancouver Island Connector bus service, will be receiving $1,467,223.20 from the government.
“Our government is working to keep vital services operating during this unprecedented time and this funding will help British Columbians — especially those in rural areas of the province — have a safe and reliable way to travel to essential appointments,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We know intercity bus companies and regional airports were in critical need of funding to keep their operations going during COVID-19. With this investment, intercity buses and regional airports will now have the funding they need to continue operating and serving people.”
Also on Vancouver Island, Waivin Flags — a taxi, bus and shuttle company that services North Vancouver Island — will receive $27,000 and West Coast Trail Express will receive $704,700 in funding.
In total, the provincial government is allocating $6.2 million to intercity bus operators across B.C. and $16.5 million for regional airports to support operations between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.
The funding from the government is intended for services to pay for operating costs, like maintenance expenses for buses, air terminals and runways. The funds can also go towards payroll, rent and other overhead costs to keep these services operating.
“The funding will help operators recover from this challenging time and build back even stronger,” adds the provincial government.
John Wilson, CEO and President of Wilson’s group, said earlier this month that this funding is the “life raft many of us in our industry have been hoping for.”
According to the company’s website, services for both Tofino Bus and the VI Connector will be resuming on April 1.
Wilson’s says that as the operation resumes, it will start with a modified, one run per day service.
Schedules for both motorcoach services can be found online here. Bookings are also now available as well.
This funding builds on additional financial support provided by the Province to the transportation sector, which also includes allowing taxi operators to defer licence renewals if they are not operating, rather than losing their licences and having to reapply, as well as ensuring taxi companies can access and benefit from the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program.