Last Tuesday several BC students, including members of the Office of Student Legislative Affairs and Sustainability, and staff attended the first of ten public hearings put on by the Senate Transportation Committee. The Stevenson Elementary gym was standing room only, with hundreds of citizens wanting to make sure that the Senate chooses to hold a special session this Fall to pass a much-needed transportation package for the state of Washington. Beyond that, though, everyone seemed to have a different opinion about what was most important for that package to include.
First up was the Washington State Department of Transportation, who gave a presentation on the state of our roads and ferries and the importance of safety and maintenance. After that the floor was opened to the public, and speakers ranged from mayors and business men and women, to parents and transit advocates.
Many spoke about relieving congestion, and several called for an expansion of our highways, and a widening of I-405. Some argued that taxes should be taken away from sales and moved to gas. All agreed that the maintenance of our roads is important, for bicycling and for safety, but still some expressed concern with raising taxes and opposed tolls, especially for residents of Mercer Island.
For those of us from BC, the most important issue was transit. Without a transportation package passed this fall, Metro is facing budget cuts that will reduce service by 17%. At a time when we need to be expanding our transit options throughout Washington to prove that transit is indeed a viable option for many commuters, and as we reduce the availability of parking here on campus at BC, a cut of 17% will be devastating to our community.
The Transit Riders Union also had a presence at the hearing, wearing yellow “Save Our Metro!” shirts and holding up matching signs. The two blind members of the union gave particularly passionate speeches about the importance of Metro transit, as they depend on the bus service for their independence and their employ-ability. The Transit Riders Union is tabling at Bellevue College on Thursday 9/26 from 9am to 1pm.
Later in the hearing a representative from the Transit Riders Union had a chance to speak and more than a third of the audience stood in support of King County Metro and public transit. But really, people of all political views ought to be able to recognize the importance of public transportation and the role that it plays in reducing congestion and making our community run smoother.
Last Updated January 14, 2014