Open Letter to Island Transit Board Of Directors: I recently read with dismay Island Transit’s 6 Year Transit Development Plan to implement fares for all in-county bus ridership.
Island Transit has been fare free for many years and notably it has been affirmed by county-wide votes. The latest approved an increase to the transit sales tax levy and to continue a fare-free system.
A fare-free transit is similar to other broad based tax supported essential community services such as community parks, libraries and roads. They are available to all when needed, at no extra cost.
Requiring a fare is asking a rider to pay tax twice. A fare- free system supports economic vitality and livability by providing transportation options for students, seniors, commuters and customers to local businesses.
Studies have indicated a potential 30 percent loss of ridership when fares are adopted — reference studies on the Island Transit website. This is not the way to meet the transportation goals as noted in the 6 Year Transit Development Plan.
Loss of ridership can also reduce grant funding. A fare-free transit reduces traffic volumes and ferry lines resulting in safer roads for all. Transit is a safer way to travel-especially in winter darkness, rain and ice and the many deer.
Bus drivers will be distracted with collecting money, having to refuse passage at times, creating tensions and will not be as focused on passenger safety and efficiency.
I have used the transit as a daily commuter for over 12 years and observed the value and community pride it provides.
We have something special and I recommend contacting the Transit Board at firstname.lastname@example.org and urge them to keep this valuable community asset intact, retain what the community at large has supported for many years and don’t degrade a part of what makes our island communities healthy, safe, vibrant place to live.