General News · 24th November 2015
Great to see people thinking about the ride-sharing issue on Cortes. A few years ago, FOCI and a non-profit called Cortes Carbon Solutions put considerable time and effort into advocating for the reduction of carbon emissions on Cortes and we found that the transportation sector was by far the biggest contributor. In the meantime not much has changed.
The 'Green Rider' sticker campaign FOCI initiated basically fizzled and getting around affordably without a car via hitchhiking is still hit-and-miss, especially if you have to get somewhere by a certain time. The other problem with Cortes hitchhiking is thereís really nothing in it for the driver except for the opportunity to be kind, which fortunately most of us are. But there is no guarantee someone setting out wonít be left standing in the rain for hours or get stuck with a twenty plus dollar cab ride across Quadra if they canít snag a ride.
So how do we fix this? Obviously we need to get more people sharing the existing vehicle fleet but there needs to be a mutually beneficial system of exchange for it to be a win/win. A logical approach would be some kind of Cortes Ď‹berí system, where interested drivers would place a little illuminated sign on their dash to alert passengers that they are available to give rides. We could decide on a flat rate of (say) 5 bucks per person for a trip from Mansons to Whaletown or 3 for a shorter distance. (these amounts would obviously have to be more precisely determined.) Passengers could drop their coins into a fare box or book bulk rides via some kind of voucher system. Entrepreneurial minded drivers could make bank in the summer driving tourists to and from the ferry to Hollyhock and Smelt Bay Park. A great source of extra income! Passengers wouldnít have to feel weird, cruising the ferry lineup to beg rides from strangers and we would be attracting more car-free tourists to the island to spend money at local businesses without clogging up the ferries. Win/Win/Win! All this would take would be a little organization. Cortes- can you do it?
The other obviously missing piece is a small, wheelchair accessible BC transit bus, with a bike rack that would run along the West Rd of Quadra between Heriot Bay and Q Cove. The schedule could be optimized to meet the ferries. We already contribute to BC transit via the gas tax so itís high time the combined population of the islands gets something back for their ongoing investment. Cortes Islanders needing to visit the Credit Union, the chiropractor or to a make a quick/hassle-free trip to town would use this bus as would many from the Heriot Bay end of Quadra. Iíve been to tiny towns in Europe and Japan that have reliable, affordable public transit much like this, literally 'in the middle of nowhere' -north of the Arctic circle in Finland, the Japanese Alps. Why canít we have this? It would make sense to give Cortes Connection get the first right to run this service as they have done such a great job over the years. The issue is simply that public transit relies on subsidies to make it affordable, which isnít available to the private sector. If BC Transit subsidized this local business to run a regular bus, we all win.
A regular bus ticket from Horseshoe Bay to downtown Vancouver runs between $2.75 and $4.00 depending on the time of day and it is cheaper for seniors and children. Thatís what it should cost us to get across Quadra.
So Iím throwing out the challenge to Cortes environmentalists, car-free enthusiasts and our esteemed regional director. Can we make this happen? The transportation problem won't go away by itself.