A free bus connecting the Denman Island community is now running after two years of pilot projects.
Coordinator Sam Borthwick says Denman Island has always paid into transportation for the Comox Valley as they are a part of the Comox Valley Regional District. However, they have not had public transport options on the island.
The resulting bus, he says, will benefit the island as it has many senior residents.
“We’re above the provincial average for seniors on Denman, so there’s a lot of people who are getting to the point that they can’t drive,” said Borthwick. “Also, we’re looking at a changing climate and it’s really valuable to be able to offer opportunities which offer for there to be less cars on the road sometimes.”
Two previous pilot projects saw the bus begin as just a ferry shuttle, then adding more stops before they were able to purchase their own bus from a school district in the Lower Mainland. The bus is now wrapped in red vinyl and has more drivers to accommodate more stops.
The bus is funded by the CVRD and will run until Sept. 4 for 12 hours per day, beginning at the Denman Island ferry terminal at 8:15 a.m. and finishing at the same location at 7:55 p.m.
Borthwick says the bus system will hopefully help cut down on traffic from the ferry, taking people to Hornby and potentially making the roads safer during the busy summer months.
“There’s a lot of people who will try to take part in what we sometimes refer to as the Denman 500 where people will try to race around the two ways around the Island to beat one another to ferry terminal on the other side,” said Borthwick.
“There’s hills there’s blind corners, there’s children and animals on the road. Because the bus is going to be driving at the [speed] limit and is a large vehicle, in some senses it’s going to be able to act like a pace car and slow down the traffic.”
Borthwick says his goal is to see the bus running on the island year-round. However, he adds that will take a fair amount of time.
“Nobody rides the bus because there’s no bus to ride, and there’s no bus to ride so nobody rides the bus,” said Borthwick. “It’s a question of sort of breaking that cycle, putting the infrastructure in place and it’ll take time I think before it’s a natural part of the regular Denman Islander’s routine.”
He adds it will also depend on the amount of funding they can get as the service grows. More information and scheduling can be found here.