When this surfer couldn't find a bus to Tofino, he bought one. And transportation from Victoria to Tofino has never been smoother.
Sometimes a personal conundrum can inspire a great business idea. For surfer Dylan Green, the 31-year-old owner of Tofino Bus Ltd., it was the lack of cheap, fast transportation between his home base in Victoria and the surf town of Tofino.
In 2002 Green was a UVic student living in Victoria. Stymied by Greyhound Canada Transportation Corp.’s extra charge for surfboards and the indirect, expensive service it offered between Victoria and Tofino, Green bought an 11-seat passenger van and started running weekend shuttles between Victoria hostels and Tofino.
Tofino Bus an instant hit
“It was popular right away, even outside of the backpacking crowd,” Green comments from his Tofino office. “It was picked up by locals who were looking for transportation up and down the island on a day-to-day basis.”
By its third season, Tofino Bus was operating year round, and Green had bought his first 21-seat minibus. Today he manages a staff of 23 and a fleet of 16 buses, including four full-size coaches, three 21-passenger minibuses, three vans and six school buses that he operates for the school district of Tofino and Ucluelet.
Greyhound bows to Tofino Bus
In 2006 Greyhound bowed to the competition and asked Tofino Bus to become its interline carrier for freight and passengers, which meant expanding service to Port Alberni and Parksville. “We just had better local schedules, we understood the locals’ needs and we had quicker travel times,” says Green of the coup.
Green credits his company’s success to the natural geography of the island: it’s a tough area to service because of the number of satellite communities. Now mainlanders travelling to points north of Victoria can leave their cars in Vancouver and walk on the ferry at Horseshoe Bay. Across the water, Tofino Bus provides direct service from Departure Bay in Nanaimo to 10 destinations on the island.
Managing such a fast-growing company comes with heightened responsibility, but Green is savouring the payback. “We are dealing with much larger equipment, which is much more expensive, which means much more capital investments, and higher fuel and maintenance costs,” he says. “It’s starting to pay off, and I’m getting to enjoy Tofino, which is why I live here.”