Gabriola Island resident Stephen Levesque, pictured here with his two sons, was the 100,000th passenger on the Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express (GERTIE). The family won a free annual pass and gifts from Gabriola retailers for the distinction. (Submitted photo)

Gabriola Island community bus sees 100,000th rider

Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express celebrated milestone Jan. 25

Gabriola Island’s community bus service celebrated a milestone this weekend as it honoured its 100,000th passenger.

Stephen Levesque, a Gabriola resident, received the distinction by boarding the bus Jan. 22 and was awarded an annual bus pass and a gift basket from Gabriola merchants at a ceremony at the Folklife Village bus stop Saturday afternoon.

The Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express, GERTIE for short, was originally conceived as a three-year pilot project that began June 2013 with a fleet consisting of a Mercedes Sprinter and an old school bus, according to information from the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation.

RELATED: Voters support tax hike to pay for bus on Gabriola Island

Subsequently, in May 2016, it evolved from a pilot project to a public transit system funded by taxpayers, following results from a February 2016 referendum, which saw 67 per cent of the electorate voting in favour of a property tax increase to pay for the system. Busing with paid drivers began in June 2016.

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