IslandLink, a Nanaimo-based passenger bus service, is pleased to announce that it is meeting the demand for increased bus service from Port Alberni to Tofino and on other Vancouver Island routes, thanks to the purchase of more buses.
“We knew there was a need for year-round bus service on this route and the enthusiastic response over the last three months is proof,” says Phillip Morgan, owner of IslandLink. “We are thrilled that travelers in the region have accepted us as a provider of reliable and efficient bus service and we thank everyone for continuing to book seats with us,”
In January 2023, Ha-Shilth-Sa reported that Tofino Bus and Vancouver Island Connector paused bus service to the western communities of Tofino and Ucluelet, citing a 95 per cent decline in ridership since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The company said it would resume services in May 2023 as they move to a more economically feasible seasonal service.
The announcement raised concern in Clayoquot Sound First Nations communities, who heavily rely on bus service not only for routine trips to ‘town’, but also for those of limited means that need to get to medical and dental appointments.
Just days after Tofino Bus made its announcement to suspend service, IslandLink announced that it would be expanding its service to include a link between Nanaimo and Tofino/Ucluelet beginning Jan. 30, 2023. They stated that, with their fleet of smaller buses, they believed they could run a profitable service.
“We’ve looked at the numbers, and with our 15-passenger vehicles, we’re able to add this service,” said Morgan. Beginning Jan. 30, 2023, IslandLink ran its new route between Nanaimo and Tofino three days a week, to the relief of west coast residents.
In a statement issued May 8, 2023, IslandLink said it has carried more than 1,100 passengers on the new route since it’s launch in January.
To meet the increasing demand for service, IslandLink has purchased two new 24-seat buses which will be used on the Nanaimo-Tofino route. In addition, beginning May 18, 2023, service will increase to five days a week on the Tofino route.
There will be twice daily bus service between Nanaimo and Port Alberni.
IslandLink launched in 1998 as service to connect passengers from Qualicum/French Creek and Parksville to the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo. It has since expanded to include Campbell River in the north to Victoria in the south and 12 communities in between, plus Tofino and Ucluelet in the west.
“We are here to stay as we continue to build and enhance our service in the region,” said Morgan.
Island Link will open a base for the west coast route in Port Alberni on May 18, 2023. They state that the drivers will be residents of Port Alberni and the buses will be maintained there.
Every IslandLink bus offers free Wi-Fi.
For travel between Port Alberni and Tofino/Ucluelet, beginning May 18, passengers leaving Port Alberni may catch the bus to the west coast at Harbour Quay at the foot of Argyle Street.
The pickup/drop off location in Tofino is in the parking lot behind the Tofino Co-op. The bus stop in Ucluelet is located at 1645 Cedar Road.
When booking online, the fare from Port Alberni to either Ucluelet or Tofino (either direction) is $30.00. The rate is $40 for those paying at the bus with no reservation. These rates are one-way fares.
Because there are two buses operating on the route, passengers can now make day trips from Port Alberni to the west coast if they so wish.
“We plan to do all we can to make this bus service responsive to the needs of all west Coast people and their visitors,” said Morgan.
For more information on Island bus routes, schedule and fares, and to book a seat online, visit the Islandlink website at www.islandlinkbus.com