Letters to the Editor

Island Transit pays its own way

Taxis are not cheaper than transit (Letters, July 8). Retired accountant Arvid Mostad made a huge mistake using numbers provided by Island Transit ($5.2 million budget, 1,167,500 passengers, 2,222,011 bus miles driven in 2008). Mostad calculated $2.34 per passenger mile as if each bus carried one passenger, but the mean passenger load for all buses on all runs is 25, which yields a cost of 9 cents per passenger mile. Those riders also avoided burning about 278,000 gallons of gas that would have created tons of atmospheric pollutants.

Island Transit estimates that its payroll and purchase of local goods and services pumped almost $4.5 million back into the county’s economy last year. Add passengers’ gas savings of almost $900,000, and it’s obvious that Island Transit more than pays for itself.

Collecting fares would impact schedules and add costs for wages of two people counting receipts and for armored transport service and security, far outweighing the cost of a small tax increase.

It is distressing that retired banker and former State Rep. Barney Beeksma felt confident to argue (July 18) against the increase even as he admitted “limited knowledge” and not being a rider of our “apparently empty” buses himself. Route 1 and 411W buses in fact carry 30 or 40 passengers on each trip, saving commuters, Skagit Valley College students, and veterans who use the new VA clinic in Mount Vernon major bucks for fuel. I wonder how many people who have “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers were influenced by his condemnation of this major benefit for local disabled vets.

Last December, the Federal Transportation Administration gave Island Transit its annual award for Outstanding Public Service. I invite anyone who still doubts that Island Transit deserves it to attend a public forum Tuesday, July 28, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island. Island Transit will explain why it needs this tiny tax increase, and three candidates for Oak Harbor City Council will tell voters how they intend to contribute to public service.

James Bruner

Oak Harbor

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