Funding for public transportation

BusFor BC students who don’t rely on public transportation too often, King County Metro’s Proposition 1 talk could be a bunch of nonsense that doesn’t seem to mean anything. Unbeknownst to some individuals, whether one opts for public transportation or chooses to drive themselves to school and/or work, Proposition 1 will affect pretty much anybody that has to commute.
If Proposition 1 is passed, then bus routes will continue to flourish, roads and bridges alike will receive long overdue maintenance and other transportation methods will be improved. Without the act being approved, King County is looking at a mass amount of bus routes cut, bumpier roads and even more congested rush hours. More importantly, it’ll impact a great deal of BC students who depend on public transportation in order to attend classes.
Brandon Lueken, program director for BC Student Programs is in support of Proposition 1, both for the sake of the students and himself, being a regular Metro bus rider in order to get to work. In order to get to BC from Seattle, Lueken rides two buses and knows just how important this method of transportation is.
“70 percent of our students live in the immediate service area, so maybe five or 10 miles away from campus, but there is that 30 percent in outside areas, like Kent and Bothell, who are passing two or three other community colleges just to get here. Transportation is a huge deal,” said Lueken.
“I rely entirely on King County Metro in order to get me all the way home, because I live out in the suburbs, and it takes a while to get there unless I have a family member who’s around to take me part way,” said Mark Onnen, a BC student. “A reduction in the routes, the scope of the network, would make it difficult for me to get to and from BC. Cutting the funding and a reduction in the routes would completely mess up my schedule, and I don’t even know if I’d be able to continue to come to BC.”
If Proposition 1 isn’t passed, two major bus routes that are available on campus, routes 271 and 245, will be relocated off of campus. According to Alex Clark, BC ASG member, approximately 1,500 rides a day are provided by buses from the BC bus stops. In addition to all of these pick- ups and drop-offs, without the buses providing rides to students, there will be no need for the bus shelter right outside the parking garage that many students take advantage of.
Kyra, a full-time Running Start student at BC said, “I depend on buses every single day. “Buses are more important for people than [some might] think, especially for college kids. I think that buses do their part for more than just getting people around. They’re a lot greener than just driving around, even though they could be better. If you take the bus, you’re doing a little bit, you’re reducing your personal carbon footprint. Though you’re still contributing, it’s not as much, because you’re carpooling, basically.” She concluded, “Don’t [only] think of yourself if you’re voting…I think that society should come before someone complaining about having to pay a couple extra bucks as a tax.” Although it’ll impact public transportation riders the most, those who choose to drive to school themselves or carpool with friends will also be impacted if Proposition 1 doesn’t prove to be powerful on the ballot. “Even if you’re not riding the bus you’re benefiting from it. It’s helping [make] sure there’s not awful traffic on your commute home even worse. It’s a ripple effect. Less people on the bus, more people on the roads. Just because you don’t ride the bus doesn’t mean you won’t feel the consequences,” said Lueken.
Russ Payne, chair of the Philosophy Department at Bellevue College, said that he is a supporter of Proposition 1 and thinks it is “one of the cheaper ways we can address congestion
in town. I’m also a bus rider, so personally I like the convenient service. [Bus services are] a more efficient way to move people around, so I think it’s certainly a more sustainable transportation choice and we ought to be supporting it for that reason too.”
Although Proposition 1 will bring about a new yearly fee, another fee that drivers are currently paying during licensing and tabbing times will be dropped, bringing about only a $40 increase to the table. Lynn Matteoni, vehicle procurement administrator for King County Metro, explained, “Currently there is a $20 congestion fee we have all been paying for almost two years. This congestion license fee was allowed for King County for only a two-year period. That is expiring, which means it has to cease and the fee goes away. The Prop. 1 is $60 … Simple math then will show that [the total increase will be] only $40 since drivers have already been used to paying that $20 congestion fee for the past two years.”
Adlai Gomez, the emerging technology and entrepreneurial representative of ASG, said that “If we don’t pass [Proposition 1] through, if we don’t get the funding, then we’re not going to have the buses to get [to BC] and a lot of students aren’t even going to be able to get here, which is going to pose a serious problem to a lot of students. So I’d say, yeah, definitely, I’m for it.” Maya Sunder, a Running Start student, added in, “$20, $30 [more] is really not that much…” In addition to traffic conditions worsening, Matteoni stated that the amount of drivers that would take to the roads after abandoning public transportation would negatively impact air quality here in the Puget Sound.
Payne said, “We’re a world-class city, we ought to have better public transportation; we have really poor public transportation as it is. The idea that we’d cut it more is just backwards. There are self-feeding, vicious cycles here. When fares go up and service gets worse, then a lot of people say ‘aw, this is not worth the [hassle],” and go back to driving, how do you get them back to public transportation?”
He continued, “there really are feedback loops here, and if the service gets less convenient, then it’s harder to fund. If we funded it better, I would think that the fares would pick up a bigger portion of it.”
“If we want the ability to have alternative transportation for when it’s needed, we need to fund it. People are so anti- tax but every day they use the fire department, police officers and the roads to drive on… all funded through taxes. People need to take this from ‘hey, this is taking money from me and away from me’ to, ‘hey, it’s benefitting the whole population.’ We need it,” said Clark.