Letter: No fares on Island Transit busses

Editor,

How did Island Transit previously operate in the black since 2003 with only six tenths of 1 percent sales tax? Why can’t they operate in the black now with 9/10th (since 2009 ) of a percent sales tax? Sales tax revenues have increased since 2009 with inflation.

Three quarters of IT’s operational cost is personnel. Have wages and benefits grown out of proportion to the rest of us?

SKAT charges a $1 fare, but they do so with only four tenths of a percent sales tax. If Island Transit collects fares, will they too lower the sales tax by one half of a percent?

Some say riders should have “skin in the game.” Guess what, we all have “skin in the game,” with the 9/10th of a percent sales tax.

Fares only generate 10 percent of operational cost for Metro and Community Transit. And that wouldn’t include Island Transit’s year-and-a -half time to recoup the fair box installation cost. And there is an ongoing extra cost with fare collection of up to $100,000 per year (personnel, Brinks, training).

Mason County, another no-fare transit system, does so with only six-tenths of a percent sales tax. Similar population numbers served. We should be able to do it with 9/10th of a percent.

The problem is that the Island Transit directors have a predetermined idea in their minds that makes no financial sense. Do they even use Island Transit? Make that a requirement for any director.

Ridership will drop with fares. Our environment will suffer with more people driving their car. Congestion increased. Road wear.

Think instead of installing seat belts in ALL buses — big buses presently do not have seatbelts — and announce the state law to use them until all riders comply.

As a rural transit system, we don’t need fares. History proves it. Return all sales tax revenue to the county of residency. Ask the feds for sales taxes not collected by NASWI. Taxed enough already!

No fares on Island Transit buses!

Tim Verschuyl

Oak Harbor

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