Gabriola bus increases ridership

NANAIMO – Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express is seeking $27,000 for further improvements to the community bus system.

Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express is seeking $27,000 for further improvements and additions to its community bus system.

The bus service has submitted another application to the Community Works Fund, federal gas tax money allocated to regional districts.

An earlier grant of $30,000 from the fund was used to purchase a used school bus and Mercedes Benz Sprinter for the service’s June launch. An additional Sprinter has since been purchased with reserve money from Island Futures.

According to Steven Earle, a spokesman for the Gabriola community bus committee, $17,500 of the money will go to the pay off the bus and prepare it for usage.

“Some of it will be to make sure that everything is in good shape on the bus … [$3,500] of it is for signage, just to let people know it is a bus … [$5,000] of it is for bus shelters … and [$1,000] of it is for equipment that we need to continue to use waste vegetable oil in the buses,” Earle said, adding that the buses are fuelled by a mixture of used vegetable oil and diesel.

The second Mercedes vehicle will essentially replace the school bus, which will now see occasional use when extra capacity is needed, Earle said.

“We’re not reducing capacity by using the two Sprinters because our ridership numbers are really strong – they’re increasing all the time,” he said. “We still think we can handle it with the Sprinters rather than the school bus and it’s more efficient for us to do that because really it’s more fuel efficient.”

The committee has submitted the application to Howard Houle, the regional district director representing Gabriola Island, and is expected to make a presentation to the regional district board of directors at a meeting in December.