I am a daily commuter on BAT, and what you can call a "choice" rider. I have a car and can afford to put gas in it, but I prefer not to use it.
I have great sympathy for my fellow riders who have no choice, and for them I hate to see service cut.
Aside from the social need for transit in our community, I ride because one of my deepest convictions is that our ecosystem cannot sustain everyone driving single occupancy vehicles, and a strong transit system is a key alternative. Our economic and political systems are unfortunately biased to encourage driving alone, and make it appear that driving is our best and cheapest option.
I want to give you one example of how we hide the true cost of cars, and this is relevant in our current city budget crisis, where we all feel pain at the prospect of cutting fire and police budgets. Think how much more easily we could afford our emergency responders if they never had to respond to any car related event: no traffic enforcement, no crash investigation or mop up, no aid to crash injuries or fatalities. These are all daily services we support with our taxes, without realizing we are paying for people to drive their cars.
Unfortunately, hiding the true costs also means that many people who can afford a car don't believe it is good policy to pay for public transit when they have no intention of riding it. I consider this selfish and short sighted. The true costs, for our immediate environmental health, and for the long-term effects of global warming, will be far more than our children and grandchildren can bear. We owe it to them to find, through whatever means necessary, the ability to keep and strengthen our bus system - not cut service. I urge the Council and City staff to listen to those who can define how the system costs can be minimized while retaining current levels of service.
Carol Elwood, Bend