A Vancouver Island-based bus company that used to be local agent for Greyhound has taken over two of the key Interior routes that Greyhound vacated when they decided earlier this year to discontinue all but one route in Western Canada.
Wilson’s Transportation Limited, operating out of offices on Glanford Avenue in Saanich, will start servicing passengers travelling between Victoria, the Lower Mainland, Kamloops and Kelowna on Nov. 15 by the latest, if not earlier, as Greyhound will cease operations Oct. 31.
“We are excited to get it up and running,” said John Wilson, Owner and CEO of the Wilson’s Group of Companies. “We are looking forward to growth,” he added later.
The license granted by Passenger Transportation Board requires the bus company to offer at least one daily round trip between Vancouver and Kamloops and between Vancouver and Kelowna.
Wilson said the two routes were attractive because they connect well with the company’s service to Vancouver, and because of ridership. Wilson said Greyhound would have likely wanted to keep those routes, if they could have separated them from other routes, he said.
“It is a great addition to our BC Ferries Connector – the scheduled service between Downtown Victoria and Downtown Vancouver – as well as the Box to Bus freight service that we operate in conjunction with Tofino Bus,” he said.
Wilson said his company has also filed an application to pick up Greyhound’s route between Vancouver and Whistler. The company may also take a look at other routes, he said.
Travellers leaving Victoria for Kamloops will now be able to stop in Vancouver, Langley, Chilliwack, and Merritt before arriving in Kamloops. Travellers leaving Victoria for Kelowna will stop in Vancouver, Langley, Chilliwack, Merritt, and West Kelowna before arriving in Kelowna.
The company may also pick up or drop off passengers at any location, municipality or unincorporated area between Vancouver and Kamloops and between Vancouver and Kelowna along highway corridors approved for these respective routes.
Wilson’s received the routes after the board had issued a ruling on Oct. 16, beating out a submission from Diversified Transportation. The board cited among reasons the Wilson’s record as a “strong management organization” operating in both Victoria and Vancouver.
“Through [Wilson’s] BC Ferries Connector service the Vancouver division has the infrastructure in place to manage the two proposed routes,” the board said. “[Wilson’s Transportation] has also been connected to Greyhound operations through its operation of the Capital City Station which is the current Victoria bus terminal. The company sold tickets for all Greyhound routes, during which time it interacted with he clientele that has provided insight into the consumer demand for its proposed routes.”
Wilson’s announcement comes just hours before Greyhound Canada will close down its passenger service. “With the departure of Greyhound, it is important that the public receive bus service immediately and regain confidence [Inter-city bus] services,” the board writes in its decision. “Such confidence is critical for the long term benefit of the industry.”
The provincial government announced Monday that private companies like Wilson’s will have picked up 83 per cent of Greyhound’s routes when service ceases — a figure that Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson has disputed.
The disruption of service promises to be especially disruptive in rural ridings like hers, she said.