Historical Snapshots

GERTIE Loves Spuds and Special Events
Susan Yates
GERTIE Biographer
Monday, July 14 2014
GERTIE does appreciate Gabriola taters especially when they are accompanied by good times – like out of a cannon on Canada Day, or as Gertie-fries at WoodFire. GERTIE’s 2nd annual potato cannon run was a blast – just ask Regional Director Howard Houle who rode the bus to the event, or the volunteer drivers who are now bidding to drive for next year’s event!

More summer events will keep GERTIE busy in the next few weeks, with two big ones in August – the 59th annual Salmon BBQ at the Community Hall, and the Lions Concert on the Green – watch for special GERTIE runs on the website and in the Sounder.

Last week, Gertie-mama Fay Weller visited Elly Hallam’s Welcome Wagon event to distribute schedules and day passes for 17 new families on Gabriola – many of them eager to ride the community bus as part of their introduction to island life.

New bus shelters in two locations are slowly (the island way, especially in summer) coming together and should be in place by the end of July – one at Silva Bay and one at the Twin Beaches shopping centre. As expected, summer statistics are very encouraging, especially on GERTIE’s mid-day runs. We would like to add more mid-day runs (and we have sponsors to help pay for them) if we can get one or two more volunteer drivers. If you’re interested, there are perks – unlimited free bus rides, and many rewarding smiles from passengers!

The system of waste vegetable oil collection, filtering, mixing and re-fueling that keeps GERTIE tootin’ along is a nicely honed routine that now takes about 2 hours/week, and we’d love to have another volunteer or two to help us with this adult-oriented science experiment. To help with this or with any GERTIE tasks, please contact us via the website. Thank you to WoodFire, Robert’s, and the Old Crow for providing us with the WVO that helps keep our fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions down.

GERTIE loves volunteers as much as she loves spuds, and we’d like to thank Bill Schrama for his machinist skills and ongoing help with preventative maintenance, and John Beattie (a volunteer driver) for the very cool ‘motion-map’ on the GERTIE website. Check it out, at www.gertie.ca. Updated schedule information and news is here too. New riders guides have just been distributed to the ferry terminal in Nanaimo and 20 locations on Gabriola, and you can buy tickets and passes at: Village Food Market, ArtWorks, Mid-Island Co-Op, ABC Liquor Store at Twin Beaches, and The Mortgage Centre (John Woods) in Nanaimo – thanks to these very helpful vendors.

Only minor changes made to GERTIE summer schedule
by Steven Earle
Monday, June 30, 2014
The GERTIE bus will continue with the current schedule over the summer, with only a few minor changes.

One of those changes will be the deletion of the 7 am run along Ferne, Hess, and Coats roads, as the only consistent passenger on that part of that run was a school student.

The only other changes will be minor adjustments of a few minutes here and there to make the schedule more realistic for our drivers.

Although the weekday middle-of-the-day ferry schedule has changed, we are not making significant changes to the GERTIE mid-day schedule.

On Saturdays we will still meet the usual ferry arrivals and departures. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the ferry connections will not be as convenient as they are now, but GERTIE riders will be able to make the 12:10 and 1:20 pm ferry departures, and we will be there to meet the 1:10 and 2:20 pm arrivals. Our early morning and late afternoon runs will continue to meet both 7:35 and 8:40 am departures and 4:10 and 5:25 pm arrivals.

We plan to increase the mid-day service to include Wednesday and Friday as soon as we have enough new drivers to ensure that we can cover all of the runs.

GERTIE always waits for the ferry to arrive, and as the ferry’s on-time performance has suffered since the new schedule started in late April, things may get worse over the summer. We ask for everyone’s patience.

GERTIE celebrates first birthday!
by GERTIE organisers
Monday, June 23, 2014
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo
GERTIE’s birthday cake was “generously prepared by Village Food Market and decorated by bakery artist, Mike Caine,” says GERTIE organiser Judith Roux, who submitted this photo.
GERTIE celebrated its first year of operation June 14, in the Village parking lot with speeches, sparkling juice, and cake (featuring a beautiful rendering of a Sprinter by Mike Caine) supplied by Village Foods.

GERTIE came into being a year ago, after a group of bus advocates spent five years trying to get approval for a BC Transit bus service for Gabriola. The group decided to undertake a two year pilot project, using volunteer drivers, to demonstrate ridership. The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) agreed with the concept, and has awarded $65,500 worth of Community Works funds (CWF) to the project for capital expenditures. (The CWF is gas tax money for funding projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.)

The project has been a resounding success. GERTIE is now carrying around 250 passengers per week, we transported our 10,000th passenger (Claudia Scacchi) on April 24, and response from riders has been overwhelmingly positive. “A bus on Gabriola is something I’ve dreamed of for the 23 years I’ve lived here – thanks Gertie organisers!!!” is a typical comment.

Thanks due

On this occasion we’d like to acknowledge with thanks and appreciation the interest Regional Director Howard Houle has shown in the project, including the role he played convincing the RDN board to allocate the CWF dollars to the project. Many other individuals and organisations have provided financial support as well, including those who donated their climate action dividends five years ago, those who voted for Jules Molloy’s superb video thus winning us the $10,000 BC Hydro prize, the Gabriola Lions, the Coastal Community Credit Union, Coastal Community Insurance, Gabriola Rec. Society, Arbutus Building Supplies, Village Foods, Wild Rose Garden Centre, several individuals, and of course our riders.

As well we would like to thank our two coordinators – Steve Jackson during the busy startup, and now Steve Polzin – for the critical roles they’ve played in making sure drivers have been there to do the runs, solving numerous problems on the spot, and generally making things happen. Thanks also to our volunteer drivers – without them there would be no Gertie bus service.

While we kept capital costs down by buying used busses, a fair bit of upgrading was needed, and maintenance is higher than with new equipment. So we would like to acknowledge and thank Gabriola Automotive, Bill Sprogis, and Bill Schram for many unbilled upgrades, inspections, and repairs. Mark Shaw played an important role as well, helping us find the two used Sprinters and bringing seats across the border. (Ask him to tell you the story!)

Part of GERTIE’s success has been the use of local waste vegetable oil in the busses. As well as solving a waste disposal problem, this lowers fuel costs and, because the oil is a carbon neutral fuel, reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks go to the restaurants and individuals who have donated roughly 1,000 litres to date.

Many tell us that the schedule is difficult to read. Please know we work regularly on simplifying it, but it’s a difficult task because with a limited number of drivers we can’t cover every route every day. Silva Bay, Price/Thompson, and Mudge/El Verano residents have developed simplified schedules specific to their areas – if you’re interested in using these as a model for your neighbourhood, or if you have better ideas for the island-wide schedule, please get in touch with us at gabriolacommunitybus@gmail.com.

More drivers needed

In order to provide more coverage, we need more volunteer drivers. Driving the bus is a great service to the community and a lot of fun. So if you have time to spare, and would like to help out this way, please send us an email. In return for driving two, two to three hour shifts per week for six months, we pay your Class 4 license and you get to ride the bus free!

While we’re now regularly processing 60 litres of vegetable oil per week, with support from the GIRO board we’re setting up at GIRO to process the entire 100-300 litres per week produced on the island. For the expanded operation we’re looking for volunteers, first to take jugs from the restaurants to GIRO, and second, to filter the oil before it goes into the busses. If you’re interested in contributing to Gertie this way, please email us. Individuals can also bring household vegetable oil to GIRO (far corner on right) – we’ll make sure it gets into the busses.

We’re presently conducting a survey to find out how much GERTIE has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, why people do and don’t use GERTIE, and how to improve the service. Please provide your feedback – online at www.gertie.ca, or by getting a survey from your driver or at the Village bus stop, filling it out, and returning it to a driver or the box at the bus stop.

1st birthday party for GERTIE
Judith Roux
Gabriola’s Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express
Monday, June 9 2014
GERTIE has been running for one full year and we’re celebrating. Come to the Folklife Village at 12:45 on Saturday June 14 to help us honour the volunteer drivers and enjoy a cake offered by Village Food Market.

We’ll have surveys there and on the website at GERTIE.ca and your response will permit us to calculate the annual contribution our bus makes in the reduction of Gabriola’s GHG emissions. Please take a moment to fill one out to show how many drop-off and pick-up runs have been saved by taking GERTIE.

How close are we to covering our costs? With ridership steadily rising, we’re approaching the magic figure of 300 passengers per week, and are expecting increased ridership on the mid-day runs (currently Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) to help get us into the black.

Two or three more drivers volunteering for a single shift would be a big help (and give those who have been keeping GERTIE on the road some well deserved vacation time!)

If you have a class 4 unrestricted license and would like to help during the summer we’d love to hear from you. If not we can help you get the license if you’re willing to drive two shifts a week.

We’re also paying less for fuel with the doubling of our use of waste vegetable oil. (Look for “GERTIE Fries!” at your favourite restaurant or pub.) A grant from the Credit Union of $1,000 will cover the cost of insurance for the yellow GERTIE over the summer for the very successful community shuttle runs.

To make it easier for new passengers to use the system posters have been printed showing the current schedule specific to each run. Please contact us if you’d like to help share the information in your neighbourhood.


GERTIE wins $10,000 from BC Hydro online contest

The Sounder (December 9) reports: The GERTIE bus is $10,000 richer after being one of five winners in the BC Hydro Community Champions competition. From October 15 to November 15, supporters of the organizations entered into the competition were able to vote online. And Island Futures, the Gabriola-based, registered non-profit society which facilitates the GERTIE bus system, garnered enough votes to be one of the five winners.

In a press release, the GERTIE organizers said they were excited to receive the monies and would use it to, “keep the “community” in community bus. We’ll continue to provide reliable service on the regular routes, and we’ll keep providing transportation for community events.”

Karla Louwers, representing BC Hydro, said the GERTIE application was in direct alignment with the Community Champion program criteria (contributes to sustainability, energy focus, benefits to the community, video quality, and youth and school engagement).

“The Community Champions program engages non-profit organizations that demonstrate environmental leadership in their community and provides an opportunity to highlight their initiatives.“This year we had 34 non-profit applicants, 15 were selected as finalists and 5 selected as winners. There were over 55,000 votes for the selected finalists. “BC Hydro is proud to support the great work of Island Futures, an inspiring environmental community leader making a difference.”

In applying to be a part of the competition, GERTIE organizers had to list what they would spend the monies on if they won.

for the rest of the article go to: http://www.soundernews.com/news/gertie-wins-$10000-from-bc-hydro-online-contest.html

Gabriola’s GERTIE gets the gold

from the Flying Shingle (December 9): http://www.flyingshingle.com

Congrats to Team GERTIE for winning one of five $10,000 prizes in the BC Hydro Community Champions contest!


RDN funding looks hopeful for third Gertie bus

The Flying Shingle (November 4) reports that “the outcome looks promising, regarding  a request from the Gabriola Community Bus Committee for $27,000 to increase their fleet size to three, and to make improvements to the routes.”

In a Thursday phone interview, Regional Director Howard Houle said the committee recently asked him for $17,500 to buy a second, 2006, 12 passenger Sprinter. “Thomas” – the school bus that makes up part of the fleet – is “very hard on fuel,” he explained, “and the Sprinter seems to be the most efficient vehicle that will fit the routes that they have
now”. Read the full article

Gertie – seeing double!


The Gabriola GERTIE bus system has added a second black Sprinter to the fleet of buses available for providing public transport to islanders.

Fay Weller, one of the GERTIE crew, confirmed on Friday that the second Sprinter was on-island and getting prepared to go into service, although for the next little while islanders will still see “Thomas” the school bus running the regular routes.    Read more in this week’s Gabriola Sounder.

Gertie bids for $10,000 BC Hydro grant

see the home page for more details

Gertie bid

Gertie’s (latest) wild rides


Jules Molloy’s photo captures the Wednesday Women’s Choir as they serenade the big GERTIE bus (“Thomas” to his friends) for a video Jules is preparing as part of a grant application.  Read more in Susan Yates’  latest article  in the Gabriola Sounder

GERTIE’s contribution to the safe enjoyment of the annual wine tasting at Surf Lodge was also caught on camera by Village Liquor Store manager Alanna Meneilly. Thanks, Alanna!



Gertie’s getting wrapped!

One concerned island resident wrote this week to Gabby, the Flying Shingle’s agony aunt,  asking how they could tell the difference between our big yellow GERTIE bus and the regular school bus, which masquerades in the same “big banana” costume

dear gabby

The solution was, ironically, revealed the same day by the Gabriola Sounder, with the following news release:

The GERTIE Bus Committee and the Gabriola Arts Council are very happy to announce that Gabriola artist and illustrator Dianna Bonder has won the “Design the Bus” competition. Dianna is working with the bus committee right now to work out the logistics of the design and decal-placing process, and you can expect to see her work gracing all four sides of the big yellow bus very soon.

02-10-2013 09;47;32

Dianna’s work is a whimsical portrayal of a variety of recognizable Gabriola scenes. About her design, Dianna says, “I am excited and honoured to make this contribution to GERTIE and Gabriola.

“I have worked hard to incorporate as many elements of Gabriola as possible so the entire island can feel represented in a fun and positive way. I hope the image will bring a smile to people’s faces whenever they see the GERTIE bus drive by.”

Along with the honour of having her work on the sides of Gabriola’s public transit, Dianna also received a $250 cheque from the Gabriola Arts Council, a $250 gift card from Gabriola Artworks, and a one-year GERTIE bus pass.

Coast Realty has stepped in to generously sponsor the cost of creating and installing the “wrap” on GERTIE. GAC and the GERTIE Committee would like to thank all of the artists who submitted their designs to the competition.

Gertie’s 3,oooth passenger!


Here is a photo of GERTIE’s 3,000th passenger!

As a special acknowledgement, Melissa, shown here, was awarded a GERTIE monthly pass.

GERTIE BUS — “Your Community Connection”…
*and* ‘the cure to Cabin Fever’.


Gertie’s friends help out

Steve Jackson received a gift of 12 bottles of special “Muscle Pain Herbal Oil” created by Gabriola’s Carmen Mattes, in appreciation of, and for GERTIE’s Volunteer bus drivers! Carmen had recently contacted GERTIE to ask how she could make a donation that she felt would be beneficial to the drivers, which would help to sooth muscles caused from driving the buses.

Thank you from all the volunteer drivers, to  Carmen’s Healing Herbs!

Carmen Mattes                                                     photo courtesy Emma Hooten.

The GERTIE SPRINTER BUS got a newly fashioned, longer and slightly wider, passenger step added in September.

step2 A Big Thank You goes out to Bill Sprogis for taking the time to craft this Gift to GERTIE to help support the Gabriola Bus Service.   Bill has assisted GERTIE on a number of occasions in the past too, where his expertise was invaluable and very much appreciated.


The special step was added especially to make it easier for our not-so-young riders to board and alight from the bus. It is a helpful addition to this bus for folks getting in and out.

Gertie on YouTube !

Gertie video

A chance to see GERTIE in action. GERTIE “gets you there”! 

Steve Jackson, GERTIE’s team coordinator, spoke to CBC radio’s “On The Island” host Gregor Craigie on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013. Steve answers questions about our young and growing GERTIE service. Video and pictures by Suzanne Whittingham.

Here’s some of the news coverage from GERTIE’s launch party in June…..


……. and when Shaw TV’s Go! Island talked to GERTIE committee members Steven and Fay back in May 2013 :


Gertie in the press

GERTIE’s Fall schedule ready for September 28Susan Yates’ release in The Sounder (September 23, 2013) 

GERTIE announces service enhancements – Steven Earle in the Flying Shingle (September 16, 2013)

GERTIE gathers good info for the fall  Susan Yates writes in The Sounder (August 26, 2013)

GERTIE is Great! – David Paterson’s letter to The Sounder (August 26, 2013)

GERTIE goes! on Gabriola – Susan Yates writes in The Sounder (July 29,2013)

Thinking outside the carJanina Stajic’s letter to The Sounder (July 8, 2013)

GERTIE needs support through the summer too – Judith Roux in the Sounder (July 8, 2013)


trips out with Gertie

Earlier this summer, Lindsay Godfrey organised a trip to Silva Bay for a lively group of women who travelled out and back on our regular GERTIE service!


Lindsay Godfrey’s trip to Silva Bay on GERTIE seems to have been a hit!



Gertie logo