The Community Bus on Pender is a two year pilot project. The rationale behind the establishment of a Community bus is to reduce private vehicle use and to enhance transportation options for residents and visitors. A bus will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Pender as proposed in the Official Community Plan and will allow seniors and others who can’t drive or are apprehensive about driving to stay on the island. A bus will allow youth to reach community venues for recreational activities and to visit friends in different parts of the island. Importantly a bus will increase safety on Pender roads for everyone. The aim is that Pender Bus will follow a regular schedule to link the Otter Bay Ferry terminal and major community resources and population centers.
To initiate the project, Moving Around Pender (MAP) applied to the CRD’s Community Work Fund (Gas Tax money) for $25,000 to purchase a bus and this application was successful. MAP has purchased a 21 seat bus and started a regular Friday schedule in September 2016. Since the funding from CRD is only for capital purchases, we need to raise operating funds from other sources. Even the insurance for the bus is considered operating and cannot come from the CRD!
To date (November 15th) we have received $600 from Green Angels, $1200 from the Lions Club, $4970 from a Grant in Aid to CRD as well as personal donations of $6511. A contract with the Pender Health Center for $100/week has enabled the bus to bring people to the Community Gathering at the Hall on Fridays. The Driftwood matched $220 for a total of $440 to offset fuel costs for the bus.
To expand the service to the proposed 3 days a week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), MAP needs additional volunteer drivers. Volunteer drivers need to have class 4 unrestricted licenses and commit to covering at least 2 half day shifts per month. MAP will cover the cost of volunteers to get their Class 4 license which includes a written test, a driving test and a medical examination.
This is a pilot project. After the pilot is completed the possible conclusions are that there is not enough demand or community support to continue the service or that there is sufficient demand and support to maintain the service.