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Bowen Island forms ride share as Blue Bus workers reject contract offer
Blue Bus drivers and mechanics, who handle the No. 250 and No. 257 services between Horseshoe Bay and downtown Vancouver, are posed to strike after rejecting a final offer from the District of West Vancouver.
Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local 134 voted 97 per cent in favour of job action on Sept. 27, but no strike notice has been served.
Meanwhile, a Bowen Island ride share program, which launched the day after the ATU rejected the contract, is providing possible alternatives to residents depending on those buses when commuting to Vancouver.
"It was really just born out of necessity," said Gil Yaron, founder of the Bowen Island ride share program.
"We are a bedroom community."
He noted many of the people on the island share the same commuting patterns when heading to the Lower Mainland, so it only makes sense to co-ordinate.
Those interested in joining can register at www.facebook.com/groups/bowenislandrideshare.
Yaron said members simply post in the Facebook group to let others know they are either a passenger looking for a ride or a driver willing to give someone else a lift.
A typical post states, "Driver. Horseshoe Bay to downtown. Leaving 7:30 a.m. ferry."
Yaron added gaps in Bowen's on-island transportation, such as infrequent buses and lack of a taxi service, means residents have always been "creative" when it comes to getting around the municipality as well as travelling to the Lower Mainland.
The Bowen Island Pub launched a designated driver shuttle in late September to help fill some of those gaps in the community's transportation system.
While Yaron noted there have been efforts to create ride share programs on Bowen Island in the past, he figures social media can play a big part in making this particular one successful.
"We have a community of trust — that's the first thing. Because only people who live on Bowen Island can be part of the group," he said, adding one of the group's administrators must approve someone's membership before he or she is allowed to join the program.
"You know when you're offering the ride or taking the ride, you're going with people from the community and that's different than just hitching a ride with anybody."
Thirty people registered the first day it went online and there about 100 people who are now part of the Facebook group — about 70% of whom Yaron invited.
"It helps people, it builds community, it gets them to make new friends (and) you potentially save a bit of money on both ends because the driver might get a donation for giving a ride," he said.
The group doesn't endorse payments, but it suggests drivers accept donations of $2 to $5 depending on the distance travelled.