The owners of the Squamish Connector hope a boost from the province will help them through an economically challenging time/
On March 30, the Ministry of Transportation announced the connector would be receiving a grant of about $128,000.
"Our government is working to keep vital services operating during this unprecedented time, and this funding will help British Columbians — especially those in rural areas of the province - have a safe and reliable way to travel to essential appointments," said Transport Minister Rob Fleming in a news release.
"We know inter-city bus companies and regional airports were in critical need of funding to keep their operations going during COVID-19. With this investment, inter-city buses and regional airports will now have the funding they need to continue operating and serving people."
Felipe Angel, the co-owner of the Squamish Connector, told The Chief the money would help the service brave some of the lulls in demand caused by the pandemic.
"It definitely helps," said Angel.
"This is helping us survive to get to the summer months and then, again, hopefully make enough money to survive the next winter as well."
Angel previously wrote to District of Squamish council in September, asking officials for help.
At the time, Angel said the business was operating at not even a quarter of its capacity as a result of the COVID-19 and the gondola closure.
Council's power to help the business is limited, and politicians referred Angel to staff, who were expected to provide some information on possible grants or funding available.
On April 1, Angel said the concerns he outlined at that time were mainly related to the expected decreased activity during the winter months — Squamish's slower season, coupled with the effects of the gondola closure and the pandemic.
With summer around the corner and the gondola expected to open up in the coming months, Angel said things may be looking up.
He said he's hoping the connector will offer four departures from both Vancouver and Squamish each day.
At the moment, it's offering three departures from each community per day.
"For those who are riding the bus still — thank you so much," said Angel. "Those guys are keeping us alive, so we appreciate all the business and appreciate all the help and support because everyone has been extremely supportive during this time through everything."