Letter: Island Transit fares should do no harm, minimize impact


Tom Walker, in a letter to the editor in the June 2 South Whidbey Record made a compelling argument that the economics of the proposed fare increase don’t add up. I concur, and I would make several additional points.

Before a decision is made regarding this fare plan, I suggest the following:

The compelling motto of the Island Transit should be to “do no harm” to the persons needing transit services the most. Any fare increase should spare those who need, and who would feel the impact the most. This seems to be the thinking behind the proposed “Ride Pass Grant Program” but it falls way short.

Under Social Equity Considerations, Island Transit would provide one day passes to eligible 501.c.3 organizations and government agencies for distribution to those in need. This does not even qualify as a half-hearted effort! How will the needy find and get to one of these agencies in the first place? And would they need to return each time if they have ongoing transportation needs?

OK, let’s think further about how Island Transit could minimize the impact on those who most need bus services and can least afford it. How about free ridership to the working poor, the homeless, disabled and unemployed? Allow social service agencies to issue not just daily, but monthly — at least — passes to qualified individuals using their guidelines. Add to that school-age kids and the elderly.

Island Transit’s economic analysis projected a 30-40 percent decline in ridership the first year, with recovery expected over 4-5 years. I believe this decline would be disproportionately borne by those I listed above. Unfair. I can’t help but think this decline in ridership would be considerably less if these groups of riders were exempted.

I urge Island Transit to revise its financial impact analysis with these considerations in mind.

I have other questions: First, what to charge commuters going from the ferry to a park-and-ride? Second, what about the enforcement burden on bus drivers? I believe it should be minimal. Rather than a strict approach, have drivers give riders a handout explaining the fare policy and exemptions for those who don’t or can’t pay.

My bottom line: avoid any fares if possible. If not, do no harm to those most in need.

Dale Christensen


More in Letters to the Editor

Letter:Shout out to local restaurants for being very child-friendly

Editor, I wanted to take a moment to thank all the restaurants… Continue reading

Letter:A story of ‘adventure’ with WhidbeyHeath referral

Editor, This may amuse other Whidbey residents who’ve dealt with WhidbeyHealth. A… Continue reading

Letter: Drunk driving laws in state need to be reviewed, improved

Editor, I don’t write letters normally, and here I am with the… Continue reading

Letter: Contrast between Trump, Obama could not be any greater

Editor, During the first weekend of September we witnessed a memorial service… Continue reading

Letter: Reasons to elect Janet St. Clair as commissioner

Editor, I’m voting for Janet St. Clair for Island County commissioner 3.… Continue reading

Letter: The loud ‘sound of freedom’ drowns out everything else

Editor, It’s 6 p.m. A gorgeous, warm, late summer evening. But we… Continue reading

Letter: Ultimate Frisbee a safer sport than football — switch it out

Editor, I read with pleasure the article last week about local Whidbey… Continue reading

Letter: Buyers beware of the listed property descriptions online

Editor, Talk about ‘caveat emptor.’ I recently submitted a complaint to the… Continue reading

Letter: Striving to provide the best in recreation programs, parks

Editor, We write this letter to thank the South Whidbey community for… Continue reading

Letter: Restoration project needs experts who’ve walked beach

Editor, Small fish were jumping by the dozens in the Hidden Beach… Continue reading

Letter: Administration spouts lies, nonsense; vote in November

Editor, “Truth isn’t truth.” Come on, Giuliani, what kind of baloney is… Continue reading

Letter: Teachers deserve excellent, salaries, sustainable ones

Editor, The South Whidbey School District is currently bargaining with its teachers.… Continue reading