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LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Don’t blame private operators
To the editor:
In his article decrying the financial state of the Freeland fireworks show, reporter Roy Jacobson implies that part of the problem is the high cost of private shuttles. He refers to “recent federal rules” that “require public transit to step aside if private operators show interest” as a reason that Island Transit may not be able to provide presumably cheap or free service.
First, there is no recent federal rule; the federal law that he refers to has been on the books for years. The public has become aware of it because Seattle ignored it for years and finally got caught. Municipalities tend to feign ignorance of transportation law until they are publicly reminded of their obligations.
As to the current situation, the fireworks organizers have always contacted our company, Whidbey Seatac Shuttle, to provide a bid and we have done so at a no-profit, cost-only level. The organizers felt that they required different vehicles than we could provide, so they have contracted with Island Transit in the past at three times our bid. This was not an inexpensive option and it was never meant to be.
Island Transit is a tax-supported municipal transit system and is not in the charter business. The organizers decided that it was their best option. We have never disputed their decision; the high cost was their choice.
Whidbey Seatac Shuttle prides itself on its community participation. Over the years we have provided free, at cost or greatly discounted shuttle services to the Penn Cove mussel and water festivals, Choochokam Arts, as well as Freeland’s Harborside and Maxwelton’s Fourth of July parades and WICA to name a few. Despite the implication, private transportation operators are not the cause of the problems with this year’s event. To suggest so only shows what happens when you don’t do your homework.
Whidbey Seatac Shuttle