Schoesler: Free bus fares discriminatory
Ruralites subsidizing transportation for urban children
Last updated 9/15/2022 at 1:55pm
OLYMPIA – Sen. Mark Schoesler is calling a new program that subsidizes mass transit in urban areas as unfair to rural residents.
Schoesler, R-Ritzville, further calls the program that went into effect in eight areas of Puget Sound last week disrcimatory.
Schoesler represents the 9th Legislative District, which includes Lincoln, Whitman, Southern Spokeane and parts of Adams and Franklin counties, among other areas.
The program allows individuals younger than 18 free public transportation in many areas; it was approved by the Legislature during its last session on the strength of the votes of Puget Sound Democrats.
“Unfortunately, this is another example of how the Democratic majority preaches about ‘equity’ without truly practicing it,” Schoesler said last week. “They had to know offering free transit and ferry rides would benefit primarily kids in populous areas, rather than kids in rural counties, even though rural families help pick up the tab.”
Eight Puget Sound-area public-transit agencies began offering free youth fares last week. Other agencies statewide that implement a zero-fare program for riders 18 and under by Oct. 1 will also receive subsidies in the form of grants under the so-called “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package.
Schoesler said most Washington motorists won’t benefit from maintenance projects that are underway on parts of Interstates 5, 90 and 405, and several state highways in King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, even though they are helping to pay for the projects under the “cap-and-tax” legislation approved by Democratic majorities in the Legislature.
“I know the Puget Sound counties have important highway maintenance needs, but so do other parts of our state,” Schoesler said. “I’d like to see the Department of Transportation be as committed to completing highway projects in Eastern Washington as it is for the Puget Sound region. We pay taxes and fees, too.
“Gov. Inslee has been playing up the free transit rides to kids and the Puget Sound-area highway projects.
“Instead of focusing on programs and projects that mainly help out his supporters, the governor should focus more on the transportation needs of the entire state.”