Saanich-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded once again and is now part of Vancouver-based Landsea Tours and its new Hop On Hop Off bus service around Vancouver.
Landsea’s primary owner and operator, Kevin Pearce, who’s been an owner since 2009, approached John Wilson two years ago about buying out the now-retired Scott Mason, Landsea’s founder, Pearce said.
“I asked [Wilson] if he would like to go in this together and he is definitely an asset,” said Pearce, who splits his time between living at Royal Bay in Colwood and Port Moody. “It’s a partnership that bring strengths and opportunities to our brand.”
The first order of business from the partnership is Landsea’s new Hop On Hop Off double-decker bus service that will tour Vancouver starting on May 1.
“We will start with four and grow to eight in 2020,” Pearce said.
The hop-on, hop-off tourist service is popular worldwide. In Victoria, Wilson’s runs six English-style, open-air double deckers under the Grey Line franchise banner. However, the Landsea Hop On Hop Off buses will be much different.
For starters, open-roof buses are banned in Vancouver because of the wiring overhead on many streets that services electric TransLink buses. To accommodate this, the American-made Van Hool buses that Landsea is using are being fitted with glass roofs and removable windows to recreate the “airy, outdoor” feeling, said Wilson.
The 81-seat buses are also sure to turn heads with their unique black paint job and blue highlights.
“This comes into the market as a premium product,” Pearce said. “We did a lot of research to design this service. We’re not reinventing the wheel of the hop-on, hop-off bus service but we have polished up the chrome.”
Each Hop On Hop Off route is about two hours and 15 minutes and will have a dedicated driver and live host who narrates the trip. Each stop will feature a journey ambassador to answer questions and guide tourists around that area.
Partnering in Landsea is the latest bit of growth for Wilson’s, which has been rapidly expanding its portfolio.
In 2018, it added Tofino Bus and its Box by Bus product on Vancouver Island. Wilson’s also filled routes vacated by Greyhound last year with its B.C. Connector service out of Vancouver to Kelowna, Whistler and Kamloops.
Three years ago, it bought Smith Transportation out of Nanaimo (re-branded as Vancouver Island Coach Lines, including the Mount Washington ski bus) and took over the B.C. Ferries Connector bus that runs between Victoria and Vancouver. Wilson’s also has a Richmond-based depot to service its Vancouver fleet.
“I am extremely excited about working with [Wilson] on a shared vision for Landsea Tours, which includes new service possibilities and collaborations for the betterment of all visitors to our region,” Pearce said. “Though this deal denotes a change for Landsea, our customers should rest assured that the fundamental principles that make our brand so unique will not be compromised.”
Wilson has no plans to step in to make any changes to Landsea, he said.
“I am excited to work with Kevin and his leadership team who have worked very hard to make Landsea the fantastic company it is today with one of the best reputations in the tourism industry.”