Opinion

Editor's column

"Out-of-the-box I-695 solutionsWe have to think out-of-the-box to deal with the impacts of I-695 on South Whidbey. Otherwise, we’ll lose most of our bus system and the ferries will eventually rust out and sink.Island Transit leadership is fighting fares as fanatically as Albanians fight Serbs. That’s because most bus riders are likely to stop riding the bus if they have to pay. As any private business owner will tell you, it’s charging for things that is most detrimental to sales.What Island Transit needs is out-of-the-box thinking, as recently demonstrated by the Coca Cola Company which invented a pop dispenser that raises and lowers the price depending on the weather. If it’s cold, the Coke will cost 50 cents. If it’s hot, the price is jacked up to a dollar. This seems like the perfect solution for Island Transit.Using the Coke formula, Island Transit can continue to boast of free rides, but only during fair weather or during August, whichever is longer. That leaves approximately 11 months out of the year in which fares can be charged. Here’s just a few suggestions:Slight wind, drizzle: $1.Wind, rain: $2.It’s snowing and I don’t want to walk from the ferry dock up the hill to my car at the post office park and ride: $10.The nice thing about the Coke formula is that the worse the weather, the happier people will be to pay for a bus ride, and the nicer the weather the more people will decide to take the bus due to the low price. Island Transit might even turn a profit, which can be used to subsidize the ferry system.Speaking of ferries, Washington State Ferries is on a collision course with disaster. I-695 took a huge bite out of the operating budget which was needed to assure that lawyers living on Bainbridge Island could commute one-way to Seattle for $1.60. Thanks to I-695, the lawyers’ passenger-only ferries will have to be grounded.This is not bad news, however. Thinking out-of-the-box, we realize now that passenger-only ferries were a bad idea to begin with. To solve the ferry problem once and for all, what we need is car-only ferries.With car-only ferries, people will drive their cars onto the ferry and then walk off. The ferry will proceed to the middle of Puget Sound, which is 600-feet deep, and dump all the cars overboard. Before long nobody who lives on an island will have a car, and all our lives will all be happier and simpler. We’ll all work and shop locally, and tell horror stories to our kids about the old days when people actually paid to have their cars taken to the mainland, from where they would drive 25 miles to work. Once all the cars are dumped, we can scuttle the ferries. Tourism would actually increase, as visitors could drive to the islands on the bridge of sunken cars."

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