Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) has signed a 2-year agreement with Wilson’s Transportation Ltd. to operate a safe, clean, efficient and effective Ogden Point cruise shuttle service for the 2015 and 2016 cruise seasons. Under the terms, Wilson’s will use leased BC Transit buses and work with GVHA to develop a program to engage members of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations in hiring, training and career development.
“We are pleased to secure a partnership with Wilson’s Transportation to operate and manage the cruise bus shuttle service at Ogden Point,” said GVHA’s Interim CEO Rick Crosby. “As a local, family-run company with a long track record of success and a deep commitment to our community, Wilson’s is a strong partner to manage this critical service moving cruise ship passengers to downtown.”
The agreement calls for Wilson’s to meet or exceed the expectations outlined in GVHA’s Cruise Tourism Passenger Bus Shuttle Service 2015 Minimum Expectations document, including: all core service bus equipment requires wheelchair accessibility, and core service bus equipment requires a minimum of 3 double decker buses with engine age newer or equal to 2008; a minimum of 2 low floor buses with engine age newer or equal to 2009; and remaining non-core service bus equipment with engine age newer or equal to 2005. The minimum expectations guidelines also cover appropriate behaviour standards and passenger safety as well as ensuring that for buses waiting at Ogden Point, engine idling is not permitted.
“The cruise ship shuttle provides a valuable link between Ogden Point and the downtown Victoria business district,” said John Wilson, CEO of Wilson’s Transportation. “With 20 minute service on an increasingly busy cruise ship schedule, working collaboratively with the local communities to ensure adequate routing and communication is key to overall success.”
During the upcoming 2015 cruise season, BC’s Passenger Transportation Board will allow standees on BC Transit buses used for the shuttle service for the first time. This means that the number of buses required for cruise passengers will be either reduced or maintained during the season and passenger queues likely reduced, resulting in a more efficient service.
All Wilson’s drivers are unionized and trained for safety, customer service and operating procedures (including idling time rules). The company regularly screens and monitors drivers’ safety and compliance records. Driver training will also be provided by BC Transit.
The 2-year deal with Wilson’s covers the 2015 and 2016 cruise seasons and is renewable for up to three additional cruise seasons up until the end of the 2019 season at Ogden Point.
Victoria’s Ogden Point is Canada’s most popular cruise ship port of call with 229 ship visits and over 513,000 passengers expected in 2015. Passengers currently transported from the Ogden Point terminal to downtown Victoria and other locations in Greater Victoria use a variety of transportation options including: the shuttle bus service, shore excursion services, pedi-cabs, taxis, limousines, and horsedrawn carriages. Each year, approximately 100,000 passengers use the shuttle service to downtown Victoria and in 2014, more than 90,000 people chose to walk to downtown.