Letters to the Editor

Service cuts mean Island paratransit cut

I have been a part of our community since 1961 when my dad retired from the Navy. I attended the schools here and graduated in 1967 from Coupeville High School (go Wolves)! I believe in helping my neighbors and community life. I reach out to help people in need as all neighbors should. I pay taxes for libraries, which I never use, but I do believe every town needs one. I cannot imagine having to pay an entry fee to go visit a library. I pay taxes for schools. I don't have children, but don't mind paying school taxes. I know that if the parents had to pay full price for their kids to go to school then some kids would not be educated. I don't mind paying those taxes at all! It is our community, and that is what good citizens do, support our community.

One of the benefits of living in a community like Island County, is Island Transit. It is a fare-free transit system, and for a darned good reason. It is very costly to buy the fare boxes, train the employees, keep the fare boxes repaired, get passes printed, have people to count the money, and so on.

King County and Snohomish County all charge fares and they also have a nine-tenths of one percent sales tax revenue. Island Transit is asking for a three-tenths of one percent sales tax increase. That would bring them up to what the other systems get.

I do know this is a bad time to ask for a sales tax increase, but 3 cents on a ten dollar purchase is not extreme. If Island Transit does not get the increase, they will have to cut 33 percent of the service. That means people losing their jobs. We do not need more unemployed people here in Island County. Losing Saturday service will be a hardship on many people. A lot of people who work on Saturdays rely on transit to get to their jobs. The elderly and disabled rely on transit to go shopping, get to doctors appointments, go to Senior Centers for meals, to physical therapy, and so on. Cutting service 33 percent will also cut the services that paratransit provides. If Island Transit cuts a route then the paratransit people that live within three-quarters of a mile of that route will lose their service too. To be eligible for paratransit, they need to live within three-quarters of a mile of a regular fixed route bus, but unable to get to the bus stop on that route. The fixed route buses deviate to pick up the paratransit riders. Cutting service is a lose-lose situation. If Island Transit gets the three-tenths of one percent sales tax increase they are asking for, then everyone keeps their jobs, service will go on as it is, and it is a win-win situation.

A lot of people I know shop off-Island for their clothes and big items. When you pay for the items in Snohomish or King County, look at the receipt. You just paid nine-tenths of one percent salestax towards their transit service that you do not use. So please consider the transit here in your own community. Vote yes for transit on Aug. 18. Let’s keep our quality of life up to the standards that we have set for ourselves, and for our fellow citizens.

Thank you!

Phyllis Brett


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