British Columbia is providing financial support to companies providing intercity bus service and medical evacuations.
The one-time funding includes up to $10.7 million in grants for intercity bus operators to help provide “essential transportation.” The province is also providing up to $16.5 million for regional airports to support operations between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.
“While we can see light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic is not over, and people and businesses still need help,” Premier John Horgan said Tuesday.
“This funding will help operators recover from this challenging time and build back even stronger.”
Intercity bus operators like Wilson Transportation suspended service due to a drop off in revenues. CEO John Wilson says the company will be able to resume services once they receive the grant money they are applying for.
The industry has experienced a significant decrease in ridership.
“Today is filled with a sense of overwhelming gratitude and relief for the intercity ground transportation sector across the province, but more importantly for the members of our rural, remote and Indigenous communities that rely on these services,” Wilson said.
“With the announcement of this grant, I am pleased to say we will be looking at restarting services in the coming weeks to ensure Vancouver Island once again has the connectivity that so many members of our communities need.”
Airports have also experienced a huge drop off in revenues due to a massive reduction in both business and holiday travel around B.C.
The industry raised concerns to the government they would not be able to support and sustain fire suppression and essential medical evacuation services if there was no government financial support.
The money can be used by regional airports to maintain air terminals, runways and other operations for the essential movement of goods and people.
“Undeniably, aviation has been among the hardest-hit sectors of the pandemic,” BC Aviation Council chair Heather Bell said.
“We see it as a clear sign that our government understands the vital role our airports play in our transportation system and provincial economy.”
The funding is in addition to previously announced support to reduce or waive fees for passenger transportation licenses, including those in the taxi industry from April 2020 to June 1, 2021.
Transportation companies have also benefited from more than $1 billion in joint funding with the federal government will allow TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries to maintain essential transportation service levels throughout the province and help ensure fares remain affordable as part of B.C.’s Restart Plan.