Wilson’s Transportation intends to operate daily bus service between Victoria and Nanaimo (File submitted)

Wilson’s bus company looks to expand into void left by Greyhound

Wilson’s Transportation considers bus routes to Whistler, Kamloops and Kelowna

Long-running Wilson’s Transportation is looking at expanding its passenger bus services further into B.C. that Greyhound will leave open when it ends all service out of Western Canada this fall.

What would Wilson’s founder Kello Wilson do?

“I’m not sure he ever imagined this,” said son John, CEO of the longstanding Saanich family business.

Kello is long retired but the company he started with a single delivery truck on Salt Spring Island in 1962 continues to grow. On Wednesday, Wilson confirmed the bus line is considering its first routes independent of Vancouver Island with service from Pacific Central in Vancouver to Whistler, Kelowna and Kamloops, in addition to other options.

It’s a fast turnaround for Wilson’s as Greyhound only announced 48 hours earlier that it will terminate its bus and freight services in Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, keeping only the Vancouver to Seattle route in B.C.

Even faster, the province’s Passenger Transportation Board announced on Wednesday it will fast-track applications from operators to serve parts of B.C. “left without commercial inter-city bus service as a result of Greyhound Canada’s withdrawal from B.C. in October 2018.”

The release said it would move inter-city bus applications to the front of the line, and give them priority status at each step in the process.

Both Wilson and B.C. Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena believe that while many routes won’t be replaced, the departure also opens the door to smaller inter-city bus companies to fill the routes where there is demand.

“The low-hanging fruit for us is the routes to Whistler, Kamloops and Kelowna, so our team is exploring that and we hope to make some decisions in the next few weeks,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s is the largest motor coach and transportation company on the Island with more than 150 vehicles. Early in 2016 Wilson’s started the BC Ferries Connector, taking over the Victoria-to-Vancouver route based (via B.C. Ferries) out of the same 700 Douglas St. which was previously run by Pacific Coach Lines.

That route ends at Pacific Central Station in downtown Vancouver, where Wilson’s could offer service to Whistler, Kelowna and Kamloops.

“We are mindful that 415 people are losing their jobs and we need to be respectful of them,” Wilson said. “Greyhound is a company that’s done some great work. Wilson’s will fill some gaps that we can.”

It will be up to smaller, inter-city bus lines to fill in the gaps and only on sustainable routes, he said.

“Don’t expect a full swooping solution for all four provinces.”

Wilson’s was already the agent for Greyhound Canada and can sell bus tickets from here to Halifax from the downtown depot on Douglas Street behind the Empress Hotel. The CEO noted that his business faces the same competition that led to what Greyhound cited as a drop in ridership of 41 per cent since 2010.

“The big challenge in the rural communities are cheaper flights, increased car ownership and the shared economy,” Wilson said.

Freight routing remains an integral part of interline bus revenues, up to 40 and 50 per cent, including on the Island, which is something Wilson’s is looking to maintain.

“Nothing here is changing, it’s all status quo on the Island,” Wilson said. “The [possible] change is in Greater Vancouver, and that’s not until Nov. 1.”

The company is based out of its eight-bay bus servicing station in Glanford.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

School strike: SD63 says grade 12 students ‘will not lose their graduation year’

Parents, students concerned about educational impact of CUPE 441 strike

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s second steel shipment arrives safely

The GVHA’s original shipment was lost at sea in December 2018

VicPD arrest one person after alleged assault in Victoria

Officers responded to the 1000-block of Pandora on Tuesday

Victoria police pilot e-tickets for its traffic division

Digitized tickets can now be paid for online

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Woman airlifted with serious injuries after being struck by car in Nanaimo

Woman, hit in crosswalk, suffers life-threatening injuries; driver co-operating with police

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read