Letters to the Editor

Island Transit should make sacrifices

Most of us on Whidbey Island are proud of our Island Transit system. These are hard times for everyone, but putting the burden of keeping or expanding the transit system on taxpayers is onerous. Not having riders support the cost is not fair.

For at least 15 years I have heard the song that instituting a fare collection system would cost more than the gain from doing it. Take a look of the farebox analysis on the islandtransit.org Web site. There is at least $5 million in “costs” that is subjective and questionable.

There is much Island County commerce (eggs and produce for sale) being done by unattended operation and this works well. The cost of collection is almost nothing and the loss due to underpayment is very small. Why can’t Island Transit work on a donation basis?

Indigent people could be given a free pass. But for the vast majority, $1 per ride is nothing, certainly less than using their own car, and a very small part of their budget (the cost of a couple of cigarettes or candy bars, half the cost of a latte).

Island County Transit now operates on a budget of $8.4 million per year. They are budgeting a 3 percent increase in expenditures with a 5 percent decrease in revenues (mostly due to decreased revenue from Island County sales tax). I wish I could spend more while earning less!

The proposed referendum of 0.3 percent increase in sales tax on all Island County sales is a 50 percent increase over the present 0.6 percent that Island Transit operates on now! I want one of those, too.

The present attitude of government that individuals have to sacrifice while government increases its size, costs, and future obligations does not work for me. I urge a no vote on the Aug. 18 Island Transit referendum.

It also worries me that there is no public oversight of this operation (at least none that is reporting to the public) and no budget transparency.

Ed Schoenharl

Langley

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