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LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Bus service is helpful to many
To the editor:
When we first moved here, one of the things that most appealed to us was that the idea of “community” received emphasis, both through organizations and individuals.
Community service was important, but so was community support. Volunteerism has given us a strong source of arts, youth activities and services for everything from the food bank and animal care to environmental and fire protection; cash donations are equally vital to these services.
I’ve always been proud that this island supports a transit system that doesn’t charge riders, because I believe it isn’t just riders who benefit. We all benefit, because traffic is lighter and air is cleaner when commuters use the system — that’s obvious.
We all benefit in other ways, too. People who can’t drive because of illness or age can use the system. Who would take people to dialysis or out for their shopping if they can’t drive? How much more gas would it require to take them individually? Do you want to volunteer to replace the transit system with your personal time and vehicle?
Do you want to volunteer to donate cash to help supplement the income of the elderly on a fixed income who can’t always pay for a transit ride, especially if they have many visits to a doctor?
Do you want to be the person to pull over and give young people who lack cash a ride when they’re hitchhiking along 525? On the opposite side of this issue, do we want our youths hitchhiking? Which is more important — a few coins or our children’s safety?
One letter suggested that if ridership on Saturday was down, what’s the loss if Saturday service is cut? Consider that the “ridership” during the week is up because of commuters in large numbers in the morning and late afternoon. Who needs the bus on Saturday?
Often, these are the people who most need transportation and financial help, the people who can’t drive, the elderly and youths and the ill. I think it would be valuable to even add Sunday to the schedule: I’ve heard a number of people say they can’t get to church.
How else do we all benefit? Jobs through Island Transit keep sales-tax money local. Want to see more decline in the purchasing power of our residents, a decline in support for local businesses? Voting yes supports local business and local workers.
Not wanting to support community quality-of-life systems because you don’t personally board a bus leads to a community in which neighbors stop being neighbors, in which people stop feeling safe, in which social and economic deterioration are inevitable.
Island Transit provides a valuable quality of life service on our island, and it should be used more, not less; furthermore, we are all “users” in the sense that we all benefit. The amount that is being requested is three-tenths of 1 percent of the sales tax. Vote no, put the money in your pocket for the year, and buy a few large mochas. Or vote yes and feel good that you support the local economy and the quality of life for everyone in our South Whidbey neighborhood.