Parkbus was born in 2010 as a private initiative by a group of outdoor enthusiasts, who wanted to make outdoor destinations in Ontario accessible by public transportation. We started small with a pilot project to connect Toronto and Algonquin Provincial Park on a few select weekends. After meeting with Algonquin Park's team and working out the details, the service became a reality in the summer of 2010.
After a successful 2010 season, Parkbus became a project of Transportation Options (T.O.), a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering sustainable tourism and transportation in Ontario. Since 1992, T.O. has worked collaboratively to research, develop and promote new initiatives that are integrated, environmentally sound, healthy, service oriented and focused on improving the experience of users. Other projects of Transportation Options include award-winning Bike Train Initiative and the Ontario By Bike.
In 2011 Parkbus expanded its cooperation with Ontario Parks, and received sponsorships and grants, including Tourism Development Fund grant from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism. This critical support allowed us to expand the Algonquin service and to start developing new routes to Grundy Lake and Killarney Provincial Parks.
In 2012, Ontario Trillium Foundation made a crucial commitment to Parkbus project with a two year grant, allowing the initiative to expand and grow.
Over the next few years, Parkbus has been recognized by the industry, media and thousands of passengers, winning Tourism Entrepreneurship Award at the Canadian Tourism Awards in 2014, and being named the Tourism Innovator of the Year Finalist at the Ontario Tourism Awards in 2013. The services was profiled by the international media, including the National Geographic, that listed it in the 50 Smart Cities Idea list in November 2014.
In 2016 Parkbus joined forces with Vancouver-based Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) to pilot service from the city to select BC Parks destinations. Following a successful pilot, BEST officially adopted Parkbus as one of its programs, opening a new chapter for the project. In the same year Parkbus developed Halifax - Kejimkujik route in partnership with Parks Canada.
As Parkbus enters its 8th year in 2017, service out of Vancouver and Halifax is set to grow, as Montreal is becoming the latest city on Parkbus network through partnership with Navette Nature - a young company providing transportation to Quebec parks from the city. Two new programs are becoming part of Parkbus, including the Naturelink (an initiative to connect new Canadians to nature, started by Julia Bitan in 2016) and ActiveDays (unique day trip experiences organized in partnership with local organizations).