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The GERTIE Bus Project in a Nutshell

GERTIE came into being in June of 2013, after a group of bus advocates spent six years trying to get approval for a BC Transit bus service for Gabriola Island. With the Regional District of Nanaimo’s support, Island Futures decided to undertake a 3-year pilot project to ascertain feasibility of a permanent bus service on Gabriola. Using volunteers for driving and administration, waste vegetable oil from the island’s restaurants in the fuel tanks, capital funds from the RDN-administered Community Works Fund (federal gas tax money set aside for funding projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases), and operating funds from donations made by many generous community members and organizations and a $10,000 ‘worthy community projects’ award from BC Hydro, the project has been a resounding success. For example, whereas we thought we’d be lucky getting an average of 5 riders/hr at this time, we’ve now had weeks with over 7 riders/hr, and response from riders has been overwhelmingly positive. “A bus on Gabriola is something I’ve dreamed of for the 23 years I’ve lived here – thanks Gertie organizers!!!” is a typical comment. The bus is run by a non-hierarchical team of volunteers, a part time coordinator and volunteer drivers.

On February 13, 2016, 66.9% of ratepayers approved tax support for Gertie, the community-run public bus through a referendum. The responsibility for managing Gertie was transferred from Island Futures to the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation.