Letter: GERTIE vote

Tuesday, March 8 2016

The transportation tax in favour of GERTIE funding has voter approval and although I am not happy about the outcome, I wish them success. The only way to make it financially viable is with greatly increased ridership. We can use Salt Spring Island’s transportation system as a comparison for a somewhat more reasonable ride subsidy. 

Though their transportation mill rate is similar to ours, Salt Spring’s cost per ride is approximately $4.67 vs our $11.07 ($136,000 tax subsidy divided by 15,000 rides =$9.07 + $2.00 average fare). Salt Spring’s ridership after eight years of operation is over 110,000 rides annually. Our population is about 40 per cent of Salt Spring’s, so to get comparable value for our tax dollars our annual ridership should be in the order of 44,000 rides. 

Our present ridership is approximately 15,000 so it will require nearly a tripling of daily ridership over the next five years to be comparable. So get out and ride the bus.

I had a lengthy discussion with one of the GERTIE organizers concerning my previous “vote no” letter. Though I am still a sceptic, the vote has passed, so now let’s move forward and try to make it a successful and economical use of our tax dollars. 

I understand there will be a general information meeting in the future as well as an AGM and I urge people to stay informed and attend with ideas and input to make it work. Over the next five years we will be pumping anywhere from $700,000 to $1.25 million into this venture and no one wants to see it wasted. 

If after five years the rider subsidy hasn’t reached an acceptable level I would hope we rethink the entire business plan. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that, but the only way to ensure that it works in an economical manner is to get out there and ride the bus. 

~ Graham MacDonald