Wilson’s Transportation is ready to spin its Tofino Bus wheels round and round again.
The company announced late last year that its routes to Tofino from Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River would be suspended and moved to a seasonal based service, which will kick off on May 4.
Brand manager Samantha Wilson-Newton said the decision was a tough one and acknowledged community members depend on the bus service, but that lower-than-average ridership and high operating costs forced the company’s hand.
“We had to suspend service because essentially after about September, the passenger count just dropped so drastically that we could not cover the operational expenses,” Wilson-Newton said.
Tofino mayor Dan Law told the Westerly News on Monday that he is glad to see the Tofino Bus service returning.
“For many people on the Coast, the bus transportation is their only option getting out of town to essential services, like dental, medical, government services, the court system, and without reliable affordable bus transportation, people just simply can’t access the services so this is quite essential,” he said. “Hopefully the reprieve we get from the seasonal service will give the region time to lobby for a permanent solution…We’ve got elderly, youth, vulnerable populations that don’t have access to vehicles. The only way they can get out of town and back is on the bus.”
He said he was grateful that Island Link stepped up to provide a bus option during Tofino Bus’ hiatus, but that more work needs to be done on finding a permanent, year-round, transportation solution.
“Really this is an upper-level government issue and it’s an issue that affects many remote communities across B.C. and we’re really looking to the province and the federal government to come up with a better public solution,” he said. “I know our MLA has been working very hard on this and our MP has as well in Ottawa so I think in this case we have all levels of government agreeing that something has to be done. Getting it done before the fall is going to be extremely important.”
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is also working on a public transit system between Tofino and Ucluelet and Law said there will be an update on those efforts soon.
“There is a working group and a consultant working on options to bring back to the regional government,” he said. “That’s a local transit system that’s been talked about for many years and of course we all know that BC Transit has certainly delayed implementing that service, but getting in and out of town is really at the heart of the issue.”