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It’s time to revamp transit, add fares | Letter
I have been a critic of Island Transit since the beginning for the reason that while free transportation sounds good, it is a utopian view and not really free because we all pay for it through a portion of the sales tax in Island County. No added fares are paid by actual users of Island Transit.
Apparently, the sales tax does not provide enough income, as evidenced by recent reports of fiscal mismanagement and the account balance now in the red. Is it time to put fare collection in place? The reason given by Island Transit for not having fare collection has been that it costs too much for managing money and equipment and delays the driver’s schedule. To put it in place, it will take money, but it should be done to keep Island Transit viable.
My own recent contacts with Martha Rose were in regard to the promised bus shelter south bound for the Ledgewood/Bon Air communities. According to Rose, $10,000 would be approved for construction. My latest information was that Island County would fast-track the application, but there was a problem with the Department of Transportation since they would need to remove a section of grade on Highway 525. Now with recent monetary developments, it doesn’t look good for this project.
Island Transit has had to realign routes and reduce days of service. Some off-island routes were in competition with other transportation services — Skagit Transit, Community Transit and Everett Transit. All of these entities have fare collection, and since Island Transit doesn’t collect fares, they lose at the fare box. The most blatant route was from Camano Island to Everett. While the schedule states it goes to Everett Station, it actually goes to Snohomish/Everett government complex and downtown Everett, which is also served by Everett Transit and Community Transit. Camano is also served to Everett by Community Transit and Skagit Transit.
Everett Transit and Community Transit lose at the fare box when riders naturally choose the bus that is free. This route, even when money allows, should not be restarted. It’s time to revamp Island Transit management and its mission statement.