Maiden voyage for Blanche, GERTIE’s newest bus

Susan Yates

GERTIE Biographer

Wednesday, January 14 2015

She’s big (enough), she’s white, and she’s already on the road – yes, Blanche DeL’Isle joined the GERTIE fleet last week and was launched on her maiden voyage (Route A, round-the-island) on Tuesday, January 6.

Grateful Salish Sea-crossing thanks to Bob McKechnie and Fay Weller, who drove Blanche from her Vancouver domicile to her new island home. She has 17 passenger seats, big windows, drinks waste vegetable oil fuel (WVO, like her two Sprinter stable-mates), and is easy to board with a Handi-dart style. Blanche does not yet have a bike rack, but we are working on that. We are also hoping that the RDN will again help us with capital costs for the new bus. Related to that, Thomas the school bus is for sale and comes with a good track record and provenance. 

Accompanying this New Year news is more of “Gabriola Does Provide” - just in time to cover winter vacations we have two more volunteer drivers: Xanon Jensen and Laura Jean Kelly, whom we welcome most heartily. New Year’s gratitude also goes to several special helpers who’ve come on board recently: Duncan McPhee to manage the WVO routine, Rilla Gibson to expertly assist with our accounting system, and Bill Schrama and Blaine Borley whose help has been invaluable in the mechanical department. And a welcome gift from Melanie Mamoser who donated the balance of her campaign funds to GERTIE.

The New Year will find us welcoming local trustees from nearby Islands Trust areas to Gabriola’s Northern Trust Office on January 15, transported to and from the ferry by Blanche, whose capacity is perfect for such a gang. In early February three Pender Island folks will be visiting us to see if they might design a community bus system with some of GERTIE’s attributes – we are looking forward to giving them a bus ride, talking about our first 20 months of the pilot project, and showing them our beautiful island-style bus stops.  

Please mark February 28 on your calendar if you are interested in the future of GERTIE. 

A community forum will be held at the Commons at 1:00 p.m. with a dual purpose: to inform everyone of GERTIE’s current status, and to get input on GERTIE’s future so that when the three-year pilot project is complete, we will know what this community wants in the way of a bus system. Anyone attending the forum will get a free GERTIE ride to and from the event via the Saturday midday run, and all participants needing a ride home will be returned when the session is over. Details will follow on the website: www.gertie.ca.