Ontario, BC and growing

Parkbus

Co-founders Alex Berlyand and Boris Issaev

What did you see was missing from the outdoor community? 

Access to nature is always a challenge for residents of big cities like Toronto or Vancouver. For non-drivers, this was usually the biggest barrier preventing them from experiencing a wild space out of the city – you’d have to rely on carpooling or renting, which does not work for everyone.

How does Parkbus solve that? 

Parkbus is a bus network that connects big cities in Canada to national and provincial parks, as well as conservation areas. You can hop on a bus in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, or be dropped off 3 hours later at a campground or a hiking trail where you could spend a day, a weekend or more.On top of our regular bus service to over 30 destinations around Canada, we run several related programs – like a free shuttle to Rouge National Urban Park, a community-based ActiveDays program where you can explore the outdoors with us (supported by MEC) and NatureLink program that specifically aims to get new Canadians outside (also supported by MEC). 

Who comes to your events? 

Just like any park can be visited in many ways, we have a mix of first-time campers or even day hikers often sharing the bus with experienced outdoorspeople going on multiday backcountry expeditions. We’ve also had people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Our destination often determines who makes up majority of the riders. A challenging destination like Garibaldi Provincial Park in BC mostly attracts those looking for an intense physical workout, while Elora Conservation Area in Ontario will see more families looking for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

What talents do you need to be an Outdoorpreneur? 

Be passionate about your work and play well with others. We would have never gotten anywhere near where we are now if not for the partnerships that we developed over the year with dozens of organizations like MEC, the government and hundreds of individuals across Canada who helped us along the way.

What do you wish people knew about Parkbus? 

Parkbus is actually run by two non-profit organizations – BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation) in BC and by Transportation Options elsewhere in Canada. We are always looking for the next Parkbus hub – all we need are dedicated people that care about connecting their community to nature. If your city does not have Parkbus and you have desire, time and talent to help us bring it there, get in touch.

What do you most value in your community? 

Our community is not just lovers of the outdoors – they are also passionate about introducing others to the outdoors, and that it is what made this project succeed and grow, despite the odds.

What have been the biggest challenges? 

Getting the word out was probably our biggest challenge starting out. It is not easy to fill a bus, and we had many setbacks along the way. We’ve faced a lot of skepticism at the beginning and even thought we are a bit crazy doing what we we’re doing, but we kept pushing and made it all work in the end.

What is your idea of the perfect day outside? 

A long hike through West Coast mountains or a paddle though Ontario backcountry!

What has been your biggest setback? 

The first bus company we partnered with backed out before the first ride even happened. We rented a big white van and drove everyone who was supposed to be on that bus for free.

Where would you most like to travel? 

Canada’s High Arctic.

Favourite outdoor snack: 

Wild blueberries.

Favourite place in the world: 

Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario.

How you get inspired: 

Get away from routine and familiar comforts.

Ready to board the bus with Boris and Alex?

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