Janet Young and her wife Laura Bergman, both 35 years old, have never owned a car. They’ve always ridden the bus, bicycled or walked. Public transit played a big role in helping them achieve their dream of moving to Whidbey Island. Today, it’s still a big part of their new life.
“We loved San Francisco, but Whidbey Island is the place we wanted to be,” says Young. In 2016, the California couple needed a change. They both quit big jobs, moved to Whidbey and started a family.
Young says taking public transit helped them achieve their dream. “Instead of spending $30,000 on a car when I was 21, I put money in the stock market and watched it grow. For 10 years, I was able to save even more by avoiding car insurance, gas and maintenance costs.”
People spend about $8,000 a year to operate a car. “Eventually, that money became a sum we could live on,” says Young. “Cars are not part of our cost of living. It’s saved us a lot. In fact, it’s changed our entire lifestyle.”
The couple also uses the bike racks on the bus to combine biking with busing. “Biking expands your reach by five miles, so with the routes run by Island Transit, it means you can go anywhere on the island without using a car. We’ve been completely astonished at how much we can do on the island by bus,” she says.
“Before the state’s stay home order, we took the bus a lot for everyday things like groceries, doctor appointments, visiting friends, and going out. I even took the bus to the hospital to give birth,” says Young who adds that using the bus reduces her carbon footprint. “Some day when our kids grow up and they face a world that experiences wild fires every summer, when they turn to me and say ‘Mom why didn’t you fix this and combat climate change before it was too late?’. I want to tell them that we did everything we could. We absolutely did.”
Young and Bergman will raise their children to take the bus. “It’s a really safe place. I send my 81-year-old Grandma on the bus alone. She’s from Taiwan and doesn’t speak English. The drivers remember her stop and remind her where to get off. So, if Grandma can do it, anyone can.”
Island Transit, established in 1987, is a free public transit system serving Island County with routes that cover most of Whidbey and Camano islands. The system currently runs 14 routes with 26 vehicles and 68 operators. For more information on Island Transit, go to www.islandtransit.org.