Province announces funding for inter-city bus service, regional airports

Photograph of John Wilson, CEO of Wilsons Group of Companies.
John Wilson, President and CEO of Wilson’s Group of Companies.

Wilson’s Transportation is breathing a sigh of relief after the Province announced funding to ensure continued access to essential transportation. The funding is part of a new grant to support inter-city bus service and medical evacuation needs through regional airports.

According to its media release, the Province is providing one-time funding of up to $10.7 million for inter-city bus operators and up to $16.5 million for regional airports to support operations between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022. 

“Today is filled with a sense of overwhelming gratitude and relief for the inter-city ground transportation sector across the province, but more importantly for the members of our rural, remote and Indigenous communities that rely on these services,” says John Wilson, President and CEO, Wilson’s Group of Companies. “With the announcement of this grant, I am pleased to say we will be looking at restarting services in the coming weeks to ensure Vancouver Island once again has the connectivity that so many members of our communities need.”

Last month Douglas profiled the Vancouver Island family-owned business’s struggles through the pandemic, and its frustration as it continuously faced challenges in getting back up and running after lockdown restrictions shut down its operations.

The Province says it understands the important role inter-city bus operators play in providing safe, affordable and efficient travel. Their response is to provide the emergency funding they need to maintain service over the next year and recover as ridership returns.   

Airports have experienced a significant decrease in operating revenues. The grant will provide regional airports the necessary funds to maintain air terminals, runways and other operations for the essential movement of goods and people.  

“Undeniably, aviation has been among the hardest hit sectors of the pandemic,” said Heather Bell, chair, BC Aviation Council (BCAC). “The BCAC applauds this announcement from the Province, and we see it as a clear sign that our government understands the vital role our airports play in our transportation system and provincial economy.”

This funding builds on additional financial support provided by the Province to the transportation sector, which includes reducing or waiving fees for passenger transportation licenses, including those in the taxi industry from April 2020 to June 1, 2021.

The Province says the more than $1 billion in joint funding with the federal government will allow TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries to maintain essential transportation service levels throughout the province and help ensure fares remain affordable as part of BC’s Restart Plan.