In July 2015 a proposal was submitted to the RDN that included budget, business plan and governance approach: GERTIE’S FUTURE proposal without stats & schedules.
The following provides an updated version of that proposal.
GERTIE (Gabriola’s Environmentally Responsible Trans Isle Express) has now completed two and a half out of the three years of the pilot period. There is a referendum planned for the spring of 2016 that will determine the future of GERTIE. This document provides historical information about the service as well as a budget and proposed ways of operating after the pilot period, if the referendum is successful.
The ridership statistics over the past two years, together with the corresponding routes and schedules set the context for future plans. These are followed by a proposed budget and business plan. Finally, we describe a proposed option regarding governance and administration.
Budget and Explanation
January 9, 2015, the proposed Budget and mill rate was revised based on reduced RDN costs.
- It is expected that a mill rate of .125 for Gabriola (Area B) will result in $136,000 in tax revenue. RDN costs are estimated at $5,800.
- We are proposing 48 service hours per week and will increase service hours when our ridership reaches 7.5 riders per hour.
- We currently range between 5 and 7 riders per hour. This number has been steadily rising and we expect to reach an average of 6.8 riders per hour by next spring.
- Our fares range from $1.50 for youth (or book of 10 for $10) to $2.50 for adults (or book of tickets for $20). We estimate our average fare is $2.
- This number is based on service hours per year multiplied by riders per hour then by average fare.
- We propose a starting wage of $18/hr. with required benefits bringing the hourly rate up to $22/hr.
- We estimate that drivers will be working an additional 10% of their driving hours.
- We estimate that the buses travel 26 km per hour based on the past two years.
- We have projected diesel price at $1.35 per litre. This number is dependent upon world prices. We have negotiated a 5% discount for diesel from the Gabriola Mid-Island Co-op.
- We are basing the litres/100 km on: Sprinter@ 9 litres/100 km x 75% use and Shuttle Bus @ 29.7 litres/100 km x 25% use for an average of 16.245 litres/100 km.
- We have calculated litres per hour based on the following formula: (26 km per hour/100x 16.245) x 75% diesel. We estimate that there is enough Waste Vegetable Oil from pubs and restaurants on Gabriola Island to provide 60 litres per week of WVO to use in the buses. We are currently using 30 litres per week.
- We estimate that we will be using 75% diesel and 25% waste vegetable oil as our fuel source.
- Wages are based on assumptions noted above related to service hours, additional hours and hourlywage. Total drivers hours worked would be 60.5 hours per week.
- Coordination will include the tasks of the current coordinator, some additional tasks currently carriedout by the volunteer management group, and accounting costs.
- The buses will follow a strict preventative maintenance plan and we estimate substantial repairs dueto the ages of the buses.
- Fuel costs based on service hours and estimated litres of diesel used per hour (item 11).
- ICBC costs for buses are estimated at: 2 vehicles @ $250/mth and 1 vehicle at $350/mth
- Monthly costs for three cell phones estimated at $135/mth (cost based on past two years).
- Marketing includes all newspaper notices plus costs for riders’ guides over and above incomereceived from advertising.
- Organization costs include liability insurance, directors and officers insurance, legal costs, andPassenger Transportation licensing costs.
- Capital funds set aside for buses and other capital costs as well as contingency funds if unexpectedexpenses arise (i.e. the cost of fuel goes up substantially).
- Projected rent to cover hydro and insurance costs for our location at the Gabriola Commons.
- Fare income: See item#5
- Tax income: $136,000 minus RDN costs.
- Other income: This number is based on the income received from grants and donations over the past two years.
GERTIE has been running as a pilot project for the last two years and will continue operating in ‘pilot’ mode for the final year. The purpose of the pilot was threefold: 1) to reduce GHG emissions on Gabriola, 2) to provide alternative affordable transportation, and 3) to test the long-term viability of a public transit system for Gabriola. In this section we will be focusing on #3.
To test ridership and other elements of public transit on Gabriola, the pilot project attempted to extend bus service just as far as possible as much as finances and volunteer driver availability allowed. As an operation rather than a pilot the future service will be based on an agreed budget and, except for fundraising efforts for specific additional features or enhancements; the services provided will be consistent with the agreed upon funding and service delivery. In this section we would like to outline the numerous lessons we have learned about implementing a public transit system on Gabriola Island through this pilot project. Our aim is to take those lessons and implement them in the framework for GERTIE’s future.
Gabriolans ride the bus
Lesson learned: As the ridership numbers in the statistics note, Gabriolans are riding the bus. Many ride it to get to and from work and students ride it to and from school. Many others use the bus to get to the village and back home. Numerous people have indicated that they have been on one of the community shuttles (taking people to and from large community events) and that encouraged them to ride the bus more regularly. Reliability and the sense of community developed on the regular runs have resulted in steady increases in these passengers.
Framework for Future: The schedules will continue to reflect the heavy use by commuters and students, ensuring that they get to the ferry, and village in time for work and school. Driver friendliness will continue to be a key feature of the commuter runs.
Lesson learned: Several people have sold their cars and transport themselves on GERTIE, on foot, by bike and occasional taxi trip.
Framework for Future: We will work with other organizations to promote a multi-modal approach to transportation that will benefit those attempting to decrease their driving time, while at the same time increasing GERTIE’s ridership.
Lesson Learned: Seniors are not yet heavy users of the service.
Framework for Future: Both the School Bus and the Sprinters provided challenges for seniors with physical challenges and many who initially tried the system gave up. The two new vehicles that we have in the fleet provide easier access. We will work with the taxi company to implement coordinated services for those with mobility issues.
Visitors ride the bus
Lesson Learned: Boaters arriving in Silva Bay are thrilled to discover that they can take GERTIE to the village and other spots around the island. From May through to the end of September they are heavy users of the midday runs. The Silva Bay Marina and the Vancouver Yacht Club both make special requests for stacks of riders’ guides.
Framework for Future: The schedules will meet the needs of the boaters coming in for supplies and heading right back out, as well as those coming in to enjoy the restaurants and shops in the village. Lesson Learned: We are starting to get more people coming over to Gabriola from Nanaimo for the day. While we now meet more ferries during the midday run, to encourage those passengers, we have not yet extended the service through the week or in the evening (both will be tried this summer).
Framework for Future: We will take the lessons learned from this summer’s midday extension and evening runs to determine the need and the corresponding financial viability of serving day-trippers from Nanaimo.
Bus Repair and Maintenance
Lesson Learned: Buses do break down in the middle of runs and an effective back up plan needs to be in place to ensure that passengers aren’t stranded and/or feel that they can’t rely on the service. Framework for Future: We will ensure that we have a part time person able to do preventative maintenance as well as emergency repair on GERTIE buses as required. We will also put an effective back up plan in place using the back up bus and drivers as required.
Lesson Learned: While the buses that are currently in our fleet have served us well it would be much easier to manage a bus service with buses that aren’t so old. The buses that we have constantly need repairs due to their age and the repairs are often expensive.
Framework for Future: Develop a five-year capital plan premised on annual $14,500 capital reserve plus donations in order to purchase newer buses.
Lesson Learned: The financial viability of the transit system rests on some sensitive variables that are challenging to predict. These variables include riders per hour, cost of fuel, and repairs.
Framework for Future: There will be no intention to run a deficit; so careful financial planning will be an ongoing requirement of the service provider. The sensitive variables will be monitored very closely and strategies put in place to address any of the variables that could result in a deficit. Schedules and routes will be financially viable rather than carrying out the type of testing we have and are carrying out in the pilot period.
Lesson Learned: People want to donate to GERTIE. However, many of them would be more willing to donate if they received a charitable tax receipt.
Framework for Future: A non-profit organization, separate from Island Futures, will be established and apply for charitable status.
Lesson Learned: Partnerships with businesses on Gabriola are required to ensure financial stability for GERTIE.
Framework for Future: Ensure that current partnerships will continue. These include:
- Reduced price for diesel fuel from Mid-Island Co-op
- Collection of Waste Vegetable Oil from Restaurants and Pubs on the island.
- Advertisements on tickets and riders’ guides to pay for printing costs
- Work with local newspaper to establish how best to disseminate the schedule (they currently include the schedule in the paper without charging us).
Lesson Learned: Community engagement and support is crucial to long-term viability of the service. Framework for Future: Continue current approach to community participation
- Continue community shuttle runs with volunteer drivers – this is a great way to promote the bus service and encourage those who are not regular passengers to start taking the bus.
- Continue to get feedback from community members through website, drivers, Facebook and surveys.
Summary: By operating in pilot mode we have had the opportunity to test a range of operational practices as well as schedules and routes that respond to riders needs. These last two years have provided us with a solid foundation of experience and knowledge related to providing transit services on Gabriola Island.
Proposed Governance/Administration Model
We feel that the governance model that would be appropriate for administration of a public passenger transportation system for Gabriola Island is as follows:
Contribution Agreement between GERTIE and RDN:
If an Area B referendum for the $140,000 results in a yes vote then the RDN will establish a contribution agreement with the GERTIE non-profit organization based on the services outlined in this proposal. The services will be provided at arms length and will be managed by the board of the non-profit organization. The funds would be provided upfront on a quarterly basis.
The GERTIE board will submit a report every September to the RDN. The report will include audited financial statements, ridership statistics and projected budget for the following fiscal year.