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^Deborah Jahnke, PT Leader, Jan 5, 2011

Transit is for everyone

 

For those of us who think about public transit at all, it is too often considered something for “other people.” We think people who need public transportation are not like those of us who are middle-class and have that great American liberator – a personal automobile.

 

That attitude is so 20th century and we need to adjust to the century we live in.

 

We will run out of oil. Before that happens, gas prices will continue to climb out of reach. Do we ignore that reality until it is forced upon us? Or do we begin to employ efficient alternatives to transportation before reality dictates desperate solutions? Public transportation dollars are the greenest dollars we can spend.

 

Personal transportation won’t vanish, but it makes sense to utilize public transportation for routine commuting. That can only happen with public support.

 

Bus fares cover approximately 7 percent of operating costs in Jefferson County. That does not make our system unusual. We have a large county with a diffuse population and transit logs many miles to accommodate all of our citizens. Our neighboring Island County pro vides free bus service because their leaders consider it a public service, paid for entirely out of taxes. What do they understand that we don’t?

 

Until we were able to move here permanently, for six years my husband and I commuted to Port Townsend whenever we could manage it. On many visits, the most convenient way to get here was Seattle public transit from the airport to the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry and Kitsap No. 90 bus from the ferry, and dear old Jefferson Transit No. 7 would bring us within two blocks of our Port Townsend front door.

 

Yes, public transportation is a lifeline to people who don’t have other options. It should be a minimum standard of commitment to the disabled. But it should also be something that any forward-thinking citizen would support.

 

Public transit is for everybody. When it is convenient, frequent and reliable, you can use it for your work commute, for medical appointments and for pleasure trips.

 

Public transi t benefits commerce as well. Many visitors arrive without cars on the Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry now. If a foot ferry to Seattle does become a reality, those passengers will need reliable, convenient public transit.

 

A foot ferry from Kingston to Seattle would be accessible to public transit passengers if we support a transit system focused on the future.

 

Vote “yes” on Proposition 1 for transit.

 

DEBORAH JAHNKE Port Townsend

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