B.C. announces $27M in grants for bus operators, regional airports
VICTORIA -- The B.C. government has announced more than $27 million in grants to support regional airports and intercity bus travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier John Horgan announced the funding in a press conference from Victoria on Tuesday. “These operators have seen a drastic decline in revenues as a result of people staying in place,” Horgan said.
The funding is divided between $10.7 million in operating grants for intercity transportation and $16.5 million for regional airports.
John Wilson, president of Vancouver Island bus operator Wilson’s Transportation, responded to the announcement with “overwhelming gratitude” on Tuesday, saying the grants would help restart his rural bus service.
“Next week will make one year since our family business – much like many other businesses across British Columba – had to make some of the most incredibly difficult decisions surrounding our operations due to the growing COVID-19 crisis,” Wilson said.
In February, Wilson’s Transportation announced it was suspending its bus service in light of the drop in passengers due to COVID-19.
“With this announcement of this grant, I’m pleased to say that we will be looking at restarting services in the coming weeks to ensure that Vancouver Island once again has the connectivity that so many members of the communities need,” Wilson said.
Nuu‐chah‐nulth Tribal Council president Judith Sayers says the return of the bus service will help improve safety across the island.
"We just don't want to lose anymore people, you know, and keeping this infrastructure in place – that's what's important," she told CTV News.
"If they didn't get this help then I'm sure the bus service would shut down. Many of our people do use the service and consider it something that is very important to them," she said.