More than a month after the Tofino Bus depot in Port Alberni closed, the company is still searching for a ticketing agent in town.
“We’re looking for businesses,” said Travis Wilson of Wilson Transportation, who was at an Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Tofino Bus was sold to Wilson’s Group in 2018. “An ideal candidate is a gas station or something…that already has an operation in place that could sell bus tickets, that could receive freight, that could add a revenue stream to what they already do.”
Port Alberni’s bus depot has been closed since Nov. 30, 2019, although bus service still continues. Port Alberni’s pick-up and drop-off location is now in front of the 7-Eleven store on the corner of Johnston Road and Gertrude Street.
Tickets can be purchased online at viconnector.com or by calling 1-866-986-3466. Tickets can also be purchased from the bus driver using cash or a credit card.
During his presentation at the ACRD meeting last week, Wilson explained that the main reason for the depot closing down was “overhead costs.” Most intercity bus service, he explained, is changing to a “curbside” model.
“There’s still a need for it,” he said. “There’s still a market for it. But like any business…you have to change the business model as the market changes with it.”
85 to 90 percent of sales now take place online, he explained.
Tofino Bus still has three main “hubs” on Vancouver Island, located in Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River. But depots have closed down everywhere else on the Island, replaced by ticketing agents and curbside pickup.
Wilson has had conversations with multiple businesses in Port Alberni and Tofino about opening a ticketing agent so that people can still buy tickets in person, he explained. He is also looking at BC Transit stops, to make sure the agent is easy to access.
“The idea is not to reduce service or change service,” he said. “It’s just to change the way the service is operated.”