Sandspit starts up islands’ first community school bus

(Sandspit Community Society/Love Haida Gwaii)

It may be a short ride, but a public bus started rolling in Sandspit last Tuesday.

Sandspit high school students now go to and from the Alliford Bay ferry terminal on a 23-seat bus run by the non-profit Sandspit Community Society.

The weekday bus runs twice a day, meeting the 8:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. ferry sailings.

While it mainly serves Sandspit students going to GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay Secondary in Queen Charlotte, the new bus is available for public passengers, too.

“Right now, if anyone wants to go on the bus, they would just have to flag us down on the route — it’s that simple,” said Flavien Mabit, tourism manager for the Sandspit Community Society. Likewise, anyone who gets on at the ferry terminal can asked to be dropped off in front of their house.

Mabit said the society will likely develop regular bus stops over time. The route starts at the Sandspit Inn, and basically covers all of town — the only residential area not on the route is the Copper Bay Road community just south of Sandspit.

Single fares for the 15 km ride are $5 for children, $10 for local adults, and $15 for adults from off-island. The society also offers a monthly rate for regular commuters.

Tickets and bus information are available at the Visitor Information Centre in the Sandspit Airport, or by emailing sandspitbus@gmail.com.

Before the bus, parents and guardians in Sandspit had to drive or carpool to get students to and from the ferry.

As part of a district-wide policy, the Haida Gwaii school board provided $13 a day to help cover those driving costs, but the trips were still difficult to schedule.

While running a regular school bus was deemed too costly for the district, the Sandspit Community Society offered to run the Moresby Island service for about $23,800 a year, which was only $2,000 more than the district was previously paying for the daily transportation assistance.

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