Editor’s note: Olivia Beha recently posted this commentary on the “Reject Prop 1” Facebook page. Her commentary received more than 100 “likes” before it apparently was deleted by the “Reject Prop 1” page administrator. Here is the commentary she posted:
I am high school student who commutes to downtown Tacoma to attend the Tacoma School of the Arts.
I ride the Pierce Transit bus every day because TSOTA doesn’t use school buses but instead asks students to rely on public transportation. Should Prop. 1 not pass, I, along with many other students at my school, will not be able to attend our school anymore, simply because we have no way to get there. However, this is not about me, or my school for that matter. Approving Proposition 1 is a matter of ethics and empathy.
You may not ride the bus. You may not like paying taxes. I also understand the logic when some of you say that you think Prop. 1 should not pass because everyone needs to be making budget cuts in these tough economic times. However, this is a matter beyond money.
After being a consistent rider on the bus for almost three years now, I can tell you a few things:
1. Buses are more than just transportation devices. For some people, they are life lines. I met a woman just a month ago who suffered from a physical disability and has been in a wheelchair all her life. She takes the bus to her job, to the doctor, to the grocery store, etc. It allows her a life of independence. If Prop. 1 does not pass, the only bus that runs anywhere remotely near her house will be cut.
2. Buses function for people who don’t have the financial stability that those who can afford cars do have. Today I met a military veteran who had been discharged after an injury and is now out of work. He has been taking the bus for the past three weeks to go to apply for jobs and attend job interviews. It would be kicking the people who are already down and out to cut bus funding.
3. Pierce Transit is a company. Bus drivers and riders are people. We are people who need this public service, and taxes help pay for public services that people require. It analogous to the education system: You can’t just stop educating children because you don’t want to pay taxes.
4. Furthermore, advocates for the Rejection of Prop 1 can’t provide any proof that any changes will be made, apart from cuts in buses and jobs, if more funding does not pass. No “next steps” to making a more efficient transit system in a reasonable time period have been outlined. If the transit system requires reformation, it must be realistic for people who rely on the bus system in the here and now, not just in “generations to come.”
5. People, including the Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (where I have interned, I might add), say that a tax increase will put Tacoma businesses at a competitive disadvantage. I argue that they will be put at a competitive disadvantage anyways if Prop. 1 doesn’t pass, because a fairly substantial percentage of the Tacoma workforce may quit their jobs due to a lack of transportation.
I ask you to try to consider this perspective as you cast your vote for the approval or rejection of Prop 1 this month.
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