Yesterday I posted to The Daily Weekly about the budget crisis currently facing Pierce Transit - the agency that provides bus service to Tacoma and large portions of Pierce County. For the second time in a little under two years, Pierce Transit will ask voters to approve a sales-tax hike of three-tenths of one percent within its boundaries this November. If the effort fails - like an identical effort in February 2011 failed - it could be disastrous for bus service in our state's second-most populous county.
Pierce County's Proposition 1 - a measure slated for November's general election, which, if approved, will increase sales tax by three-tenths of a percent in the Pierce Transit district - may make or break the struggling transit agency.
Fifty percent of Pierce Transit's ridership has a yearly household income of $20,000 or less, and 75 percent of riders have a yearly household income of $40,000 or less. In addition to standard bus service in the county, Pierce Transit is responsible for providing paratransit shuttle service for people with disabilities. And it all adds up. Thanks to the faltering economy and Pierce Transit's heavy reliance on sales tax, the agency has experienced four straight years of declining revenues, with only more of the same forecast.
Despite all of this, voters rejected an identical three-tenths of one percent sales tax increase in February 2011 that would have helped the agency maintain services and its service area. Pierce Transit currently collects six-tenths of one percent sales tax within its boundaries, with the authority to go up to nine-tenths.
"For some people who don't have access to transportation, this is their lifeline," says Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, chair of the Pierce Transit board of commissioners.
Despite the fact it focused on Pierce County, the post inspired a number of comments from Daily Weekly readers - all of which were in support of maintaining bus services, especially for the area's most vulnerable residents.
As commenter seattle22 writes:
Pierce Transits' Shuttle Service is what many disabled RELY on, so as not to be housebound. This service is equipt to transport the wheelchair bound to medical appt.s, church, even the grocery store. We should not deny this group their freedom to leave their residence.