Rural transit agencies struggle to keep routes

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jlangelerKING5

KING5.com

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 11:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 24 at 6:09 AM

EVERETT -- With no way to tax more, and no increase in state funding, Island Transit is dropping two bus routes effective this weekend.  More routes are slated to end next year, according to Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose.

Rose said Monday lack of state funding is hurting rural public transit even more than larger agencies.  It is one of five agencies already maxed out on local taxation.  State law mandates transit authorities can only charge 9/10ths of one-percent of sales tax.

Island Transit also does not charge its riders a fee.

"It's disgusting the state only puts two-percent of funding into transit," said Rose, "We're taxed out, we need state investment."

Ridership is "not as hefty" in some parts of the district, Rose indicated.  However, one of the routes being cut is relative popular, the 412 Express from Everett to Camano Island.

Users expressed disappointment of the route's demise, particularly since many of them became close friends while sharing the 45-minute ride to and from Island County.

"We've had baby showers.  We've had retirement parties, Super Bowl parties, Christmas parties," said rider John Cano, "Usually bus systems are pretty cold and you sit down and try to ignore everybody.  Not here."

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