Letters to the Editor

Taxis could be cheaper than transit

Island Transit is looking for more money. I won’t vote for a tax increase to support them because the benefits do not warrant the cost. In reading the Whidbey News-Times lead story of June 27, 2009, “Future of transit rides on tax increase,” I find expenditures that make no sense.

The article states that in 2008, 1,167,500 passengers were carried 2,222,011 miles at a cost of $5.2 million dollars. That is $2.34 per passenger mile. The local taxi cab companies charge about $2.25 per mile. Perhaps we would be better off paying taxi fares for those who really need the ride. The carbon footprint would be much smaller given the considerable number of almost empty buses covering the island.

The article also states that if a fee were charged, the ridership would drop to 675,000 passengers. That is an indication of those who have a serious enough need for the bus to pay $1 per ride. This drives the cost for “needed service” to $3.90 per passenger mile.

There are those who think the bus system is convenient and appreciated, and so would any number of other free services, if the taxpayers would just spring for the dollars. Keep in mind that the government doesn’t have any money; it just has other people’s money. And paying half of what we make seems like plenty to pay in for needed services.

There is a limited amount that taxpayers should be asked to fork over. The article states that the tax increase would be just 3 cents on a $10 purchase. But, as it is, I currently have only half of my $10 left after taxes. I pay 77 cents in FICA when I earn my $10 (twice that for the self-employed). I pay $2.80 in federal income tax. I pay about 13 cents in real estate tax on my home. I pay 85 cents in sales tax and I pay numerous fees, permits and licenses. The sum total of these leaves me with about $5 out of the $10 I earned.

Island Transit has had over 20 years to earn its way to be a viable needed service and still we are burning endless amounts of fuel and taxpayer dollars to drive empty buses. I encourage Island County voters to vote no on any and all funding for Island Transit. The money could be better spent on our schools.

I am a retired accountant with 40 years experience counseling businesses. I am a firm believer that there is just so much money that should be spent on any endeavor, public or private before it folds up operations and calls it quits.

Arvid Mostad

Oak Harbor

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