Prop 1 to reform bus system

Walking from class to class may take five, maybe 10 minutes at most. Getting to and from the S.U.B. or Collins Library is not something that takes a lot of planning beforehand.

University pavements are maintained and structured to provide ease of access for students and passersby to get from place to place. Step off campus into the worn concrete of Tacoma and suddenly traversing from locations takes a little more effort.

Many students have extra forms of mobility like skateboards or bikes, but the general population of those in Tacoma use the bus system to get to and from activities.

The area of Tacoma surrounding the Puget Sound campus and the connecting neighborhoods is known as Pierce County, which identifies the local bus system as Pierce Transit. Another main county near Tacoma, King County, follows the Metro Transit bus system.

Currently, if any person had a place in mind that they wanted to travel to in Tacoma, the bus system is adequate enough to get them there with minimal walking in between.

It would generally take two to three buses to get to most common places within Tacoma or to connecting areas like Federal Way or Lakewood. The bus system used to be more maintained, but federal budget reductions have taken a toll on the quality of service.

Over the years, the transit system’s funding has been dwindling and the number of buses has been diminishing right along with it. Perhaps one of the largest adaptions felt today is the failure to pass legislature Proposition 1 in February of 2011.

This plan called for a 0.3 percent increase in sales tax in order to preserve the bus service as it was and add a few additional features over time. Voters rejected the proposition, however, and subsequently transit service has declined 35 percent, with reduced hours on the days buses are still running.

This is what causes passengers to take two to three buses to get somewhere else; it’s what makes getting home on a Saturday night difficult, getting to church early Sunday morning improbable, and the reason why most buses don’t run past 8 p.m. on weekdays.

The time to vote in the upcoming November election is approaching, and once again Proposition 1 has arisen. This 2012 version calls for an additional increase in sales tax by 0.3 percent to repair some of the damage to our transit system and maintain the routes already provided. However, if Proposition 1 fails this year, Pierce Transit will lose all bus service on weekends and discontinue service past 7 p.m. on weekdays.

There are several Open House meetings throughout September and October providing more details about the implications of the proposition, but the facts should be a determining factor alone. As one passenger aboard a Pierce Transit bus pointed out, “They want us to take the bus to reduce pollution and help save on gas, then they go around and cut public transportation. What are we supposed to do?”

Having such an extreme shortage of buses available impacts not only the citizens of Tacoma, but the students at University of Puget Sound as well. The student body will be less likely to engage in off campus extracurriculars without the transportation to get there. Suddenly going out to the mall on Saturday becomes a thing of the past.

“Any impact that reduces student accessibility to mass transit is not helpful for the student lifestyle,” Dean of Students Mike Segawa said.

He points out that learning and using the bus system adds to self-sustainability, which is something largely promoted and advocated for those of us new to the area and still making the lifestyle adjustment.

Roman Christiaens, Social Justice Coordinator at Puget Sound, said he was surprised to know that Pierce Transit was “interested in cutting more, given the cuts last year.”

“It’s a disservice to individuals who are disabled and have no other means of transportation,” he continued.

If anyone has ever ridden a Pierce Transit bus before they would have noticed the standard of care and attention provided to the disabled passengers riding the bus.

The most frequent complaints about the potential cuts in bus service pertain to the disabled, the working class, the displaced individuals, the mothers and children and the college students. The rejection of Proposition 1 will be a detrimental blow to the Pierce Transit bus system.

Without enough voter support, services will start vanishing. Residents of Tacoma rely heavily on the bus to sustain their day-to-day life, and Puget Sound Loggers are, by their very nature, a part of Tacoma.So let’s rally our ballots to prolong bus service throughout Tacoma.