GERTIE’s Victoria Venture

Susan Yates

GERTIE Biographer

Monday, March 17 2014

‘Thomas’ the GERTIE bus on board the Quinsam en route to the protest in Victoria last Tuesday. Photo courtesy Eileen Kaarsemaker

 GERTIE left Gabriola with a full busload early on March 11 to join hundreds of folks from many islands and coastal communities at the legislature in Victoria. About a thousand ralliers gathered in solidarity to tell our provincial government what we think of the latest, and cumulative impact of the rising fares and diminishing services of BC Ferries. 

We thank Bob Andrew for volunteering to drive the return trip to Victoria; he was paid in cookies from Ladysmith (whose citizens were also at the rally) and entertained with non-stop singing on the trip back to Gabriola. GERTIE also thanks our Regional Director Howard Houle for walking (well, riding) the talk by joining the GERTIE passengers and marine highway supporters at the rally.

Thomas (the yellow ex-school bus) was happy to be on the road again – his sluggish battery found new life with the spring warmth, his brakes lost their winter squeal after a few curves on the Malahat, and the rattle-and-bounce we know so well was much tamer with a full load of high-spirited islanders (only one person was ejected from their seat - they probably should’ve eaten more cookies…) 

It would be appropriate here to thank everyone who paid the $25 to ride on Thomas, because as much as we love to keep him on the road, it costs over $1200.00 to insure him for 3 months -the minimum required insurance period. Needless to say, the more Gabriolans who book any of the GERTIE buses for events is a boon to the overall operation of our community bus system. 

After a brief winter downturn in bus-rider statistics we are right back to the steady increase in passengers we’ve seen over the past few months – to the point where we have so many bums in seats for the commuter runs that you will soon see 4 new seats in each of the Sprinters (thank you, Mark Shaw!)

You will also soon see additional bus shelters - perhaps in your neighborhood, depending on who needs them most. A volunteer crew is planning the shelters and most of them should be built in time for the busy summer season. 

Two new volunteer drivers will soon be making the GERTIE rounds; thankfully this will also help with the expected rise in ridership during the summer. However, we always welcome more volunteer drivers – remember that your driver training and testing will be paid for by GERTIE, and some of the seasoned crew (9 months so far) can help with practice sessions for new and potential drivers. 

It’s income tax time so if you purchase monthly GERTIE passes, keep the receipts to claim a tax rebate for public transportation. Check the website: www.gertie.ca for all new and unexpected information, and send your comments and queries to gabriolacommunitybus@gmail.com. You can get up-to-the-minute information by subscribing to gertienews@gmail.com (include your smart phone # to be on a text list).