BC Transportation Minister Claire Trevena visited Salt Spring on Friday to help recognize a milestone anniversary for Salt Spring Transit.
The award-winning system achieved 10 years in service in January and is recognized as the best performing bus service in the province when compared to similar-sized communities.
SSI Transportation Commission chair Robin Williams MCed the event at Centennial Park, where Trevena recognized all the partners who helped create the service, from BC Transit, the Capital Regional District and the transportation commission to the people who use the bus. Gary Holman, who was the CRD’s electoral area director for Salt Spring at the time, was singled out for special thanks for all the work he did to ensure the service was mobilized.
Holman received a certificate of merit along with four other early transit advocates: John Cade, Bob Fenske, the Salt Spring Lions Club and Ineke de Jong, Salt Spring Transit’s current and only operator.
“It is a great example of government and BC Transit listening to people,” Trevena said of the amenity’s inauguration. “People wanted the service and 10 years later we’re talking about expansion. I was talking to Robin [Williams] about how we can get a larger bus, how we can ensure this service grows, because it is well used and it is the most successful rural transportation service.”
Trevena added there would be nothing to celebrate without the people on Salt Spring who ride the bus and so strongly support public transit, because a system cannot be sustainable if relying on seasonal tourist traffic. Salt Spring also remains the only island to have BC Transit involved, although some others are starting to introduce community transit society models.
“One of my key priorities as minister is how we can green transportation, how we can get people out of their cars, onto transit [and] onto their bikes,” Trevena said. “So I’m so please to see a shining example in Salt Spring of how it is possible.”
BC Transit’s acting CEO and president Erin Pinkerton was also on Salt Spring for the event and revealed her personal connection to the system. She shared the story of managing BC Ferries’ terminal operations and having the request for bus access rights to Fulford terminal come across her desk. As a brand new concept, Pinkerton’s higher ups said it wouldn’t be possible. Pinkerton stamped her approval anyway and then defected to BC Transit.
“I actually feel like I’ve been part of this system for 10 years, because that bus is on Fulford,” Pinkerton said.
The Centennial Park event was followed by a rider give-away at the bus shelter outside the Salt Spring Visitors Centre, which the Lions Club donated to the community and Mouat’s hosts free of charge.
For more on this story, see the May 16, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.