Letter: An alternative Gabriola transportation system

Wednesday, February 10 2016

An island transit system is an excellent idea, but how sustainable is the current proposal for which we are holding a referendum? That is the question that must be considered. 

The upcoming referendum is asking Gabriolans and other taxpayers to finance the GERTIE bus system in the amount of $250,000 (minimum) per year. That we would benefit from a community-supported system is without question, but I think it’s time to think alternatives.

The Polish model:

During the mid-1970s, Poland was undergoing a fuel shortage. To maximize the efficiency of this scarce resource, Poles instituted a stamp system that encouraged community ride sharing. Those who wanted or needed to use this type of service would purchase a booklet of stamps with a value of 50 cents/ride each and then hitch a ride from anywhere to anywhere with anyone, for cheap. Drivers would carry a stamp book, collect one stamp per rider, meet a new person and then redeem a completed book ($5 or $10 value) for gas or merchandise in their community. And if this motivated driver picks up another rider on the way home, it pays for gas.

Think of the tourism and marketing potential. Little Gabriola, Isle of the Arts, as a rider friendly place where people of all ages can feel safe travelling. All merchants and artist studios could participate and would be accessible.

Projected cost: Approximately $40,000 (annually) in admin and printing fees. Ancillary benefits to the community in Gabriola stamp currency spent. Win-win.

The proposed GERTIE model: The argument has been presented. Consider service for 364 days per year - projected cost: approximately $700 per day, $4,900 per week, $250,000 year.    

Lose-lose.   

The future is sustainability, not more subsidy. Think Uber, think efficiency, think expanded community involvement, think about leading change. Vote no in this referendum.

Respectfully,

~ James Mitchell