Tofino’s summer shuttle service has been put on hiatus due to concerns around COVID-19. (Westerly News file photo)

Tofino pumps brakes on summer beach shuttles

“I think this is a responsible decision to make, especially going into the early parts of the summer”

The wheels on Tofino’s summer shuttles won’t get rolling this month, but the town’s municipal council hasn’t closed the door on relaunching the service if it’s needed later in the summer.

During their May 26 regular meeting, the town’s municipal council voted unanimously to put the shuttle on hiatus for the 2020 season and defer its budget to next year when the viability of the service will be revisited.

The summer shuttle, which buses tourists and residents between Cox Bay and downtown during Tofino’s peak season, was launched in 2007 and revamped in 2014 when its initial $2 fee was nixed and ridership became free. The free service saw large enough ridership for the district to double its fleet from one to two buses last summer.

READ MORE: Tofino expands summer bus service

The budget for 2019’s summer shuttle to operate from June 28 to Sept. 15 was $170,000, with $120,000 coming from Resort Municipality Initiative funding and the remainder coming from Tofino’s pay parking revenue.

During last week’s council meeting, Tofino CAO Bob MacPherson explained that, while Tofino’s resorts are expected to begin opening their doors to travelers in June, operating the shuttle service during the coronavirus pandemic would be a heavy burden for the district’s staff and contractor to bear.

“The cleaning protocols that would be required for the bus at the end of each trip are not 100 per cent clear, but certainly something that we would be challenged to find resources for,” MacPherson said adding that ensuring proper social distancing on the small shuttles would be problematic.

“We’re also concerned about the uptake from consumers. As we do start to welcome visitors to Tofino in the next little while, we’re hearing certainly that our visitors are going to be very carefully thinking about what they do for the most part and we’d be sending empty buses through town a lot of the day.”

READ MORE: Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

He said the service has been a success story for the district since its launch and added it could start running again if necessary.

“It’s something that we think has done its job in providing service for our guests as well as reducing the number of cars that are coming into downtown. But, with the COVID pandemic upon us, we’re having to examine a lot of the ways we’re doing business,” he said.

“We’ll certainly monitor how busy the resorts get and what’s happening in terms of the pandemic and, kind of, have in our hip pockets some solutions that, if we do think it’s appropriate to start a shuttle service again, we would start that shuttle service later in the summer.”

Council approved staff’s recommendation to temporarily nix the service with little discussion, though mayor Josie Osborne noted that she was comforted by the fact it could start up again.

“We can still be responsive,” she said. “But, on the whole, I think this is a responsible decision to make, especially going into the early parts of the summer.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Tofino driving for change in transportation methods

READ MORE: ACRD approves BC Transit plan for Tofino-Ucluelet

Coronaviruspublic transitTofino,

Just Posted

Public welcomed back to Sidney Spit ferry and camping ground

Service opens July 20 with new ferry contractor and other pandemic-related changes

Sudden death leaves Vancouver Island family of five children without a father

GoFundMe campaign set up by Lake Cowichan widow’s friend

Couple opts for plan B for wedding in Courtenay

Pandemic restrictions prompt April Powell and Hayden Eely to change plans for the big day

As Charleigh turns 5, Lake Cowichan family says thank you

Girl celebrates her fifth birthday, as support helps her fight against very rare CLN2 Batten disease

Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19

Construction begins soon on one-lane stretch of Highway 14 near Port Renfrew

Roadway has been narrowed since heavy rainfall caused slope to fail in 2018

‘We’re not busting ghosts’: Northern B.C. paranormal investigators check out bistro

Paranormal North Coast British Columbia recently checked out PF Bistro at City Centre Mall.

VicPD searching for three men in connection to random assault that put two in hospital

If you see these men you’re asked to call VicPD’s non-emergency line

Protest calls attention to opioid ‘pandemic’ in Cowichan

Four reported overdoses and two deaths of Cowichan Tribes members over the weekend helped spur rally

Russian hackers seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine data: intel agencies

It is believed APT29, also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible

Parksville woman reaches quarter-finals of ‘Maxim’ magazine cover girl contest

Boldo advances through wildcard round; voting ends July 16

Twitter racing to unravel mystery cyberattack

Some of the world’s most prominent names had their Twitter accounts post invitations for an apparent Bitcoin scam

B.C. announces funding to support post-secondary students with disabilities

The province is investing $275,000 in the new BCcampus website

Most Read