When is the next bus?

Proposition 1 is funding request for Pierce County Transit’s local public transportation system. The bus services are funded mainly with sales tax revenues which have declined considerably during the Great Recession. It proposes another bump up in the local share of our state sales tax, from a .06 to a .09 rate, up three cents for every ten taxable dollars spent.

The $45 fee to activate your own U-Pass for three months will not be affected by the vote. The U-Pass is a wonderful bargain for students, offering huge savings over paying each fare on every trip. It is accepted as a “free pass” by all area transit systems except the ferries. Many UWT students, faculty, and staff ride public transit, saving themselves the hassle of finding and paying for parking downtown. Many students use the less-stressful ride-time to study for tests, complete their homework, or to catch a nap. See: http://www.washington.edu/u-pass

A failure for Proposition 1 would mean longer wait times for your bus with no holiday or week-end buses and no evening service after 7:00 p.m. The vote won’t affect Sound Transit’s express buses, the Sounder, or Link light-rail services which already draw the maximum .09 rate from our sales taxes as regulated by the legislature.

After the failure of a similar funding request from voters by PT in Feb. 2011, service was cut dramatically. Since then, some cities have opted out of the PT zone altogether: Bonney Lake, Dupont, Orting, Roy, and Sumner. The PT service in these areas was scant before the cut-backs. The service area borders have been altered to reflect the smaller zone. See: http://piercetransit.org/ptba.pdf

Our community gains many positive social impacts from public transportation including an existing means of cutting our own carbon-footprints. Our civilization needs more public transportation, not less of it. Problems inherent with our existing patchwork of public transportation systems such as transfer hassles between them and routes that simply end at a county line can be remedied with thoughtful leadership, community engagement and sensible planning.

Our nation’s infrastructure, which includes ports, freeways, roads, and rails, have been paid for and built using a socialized system which collects taxes and spends the funds for the public good. Anyone that prospers in our nation benefits from using our infrastructure and from using the services of teachers, firefighters, police, and national guardians which are also paid for by us all.

The human cost paid by our neighbors, friends, and relatives—our fellow citizens–who have no other alternative than that of public transportation will be devastating if the proposition fails. They may be forced into substandard cars adding to the frustrating gridlock and congestion now found on our roads.

If it passes, we will likely see fewer of our grandmothers walking for miles along a road with no sidewalk, inches from the speeding cars, packing home her groceries in two heavy, reusable bags.