After attending the June 11 Transit Board Meeting in Aberdeen and hearing the concerns regarding the reduction in service – especially the possibility of eliminating weekend service –- I feel compelled to write this letter.
Grays Harbor County has suffered serious blows to its employment. We continue to compete with Ferry County in Northeast Washington for the top spot in unemployment in the state of Washington. This county cannot suffer another blow to its already volatile employment and fragile economy. Cutting weekend bus service will do just that – deal yet another blow to the job market and our economy.
As we enter the tourist season and the increase in seasonal employment, service employees and teenagers working summer jobs need dependable transportation. These employees are some of the lowest wage earners in the county and they rely on the bus as they cannot afford cars. If they are lucky enough to have a car, they struggle to purchase fuel and insurance to drive them. The hospitality industry operates on a seven-day per week schedule and they don’t take weekends off. In fact, weekends are their busiest days of the week! Why would we even consider cutting bus routes on the weekends?! This county is so spread out and so are these jobs. Transportation is a critical factor in the success of these industries and of these employees.
There are other options on the table. Scaling back bus service during the week and increasing the sales tax in the county by .03 percent. I, personally, would support the increased sales tax believe it or not, as it is for the good of the county as a whole. Keeping everyone employed who is currently employed and improving employment in the county should be our number one priority.
Grays Harbor Transit Authority will be holding two public meetings later this month. I urge everyone in the county to attend at least one, if not both, public meetings.
Beth M. DeVaul