Camas and Washougal voters have an opportunity on Nov. 8 to keep existing C-Tran bus service intact, in their community and throughout Clark County, by voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 1.
C-Tran bus service, while admittedly not always used by a majority of Camas and Washougal residents, offers a critical link for those who need it to reach jobs, schools and health care services in the Vancouver and Portland areas.
If Proposition 1 fails, the Camas-Washougal Connector route and the Camas-Washougal daily commuter route No. 41 are targeted for elimination. In addition Camas-Washougal commuter route No. 92 would be cut back to stops every hour instead of the current every 30 minutes. County-wide the C-Tran No. 19 route to Washington State University’s Vancouver campus is also high on the list for potential elimination. And, C-Tran would offer no Sunday service. These service cuts, along with several others county-wide, are scheduled to go into effect in 2013 should the measure fail at the polls.
To maintain existing bus service and avoid further service reductions, C-Tran has placed a 0.2 percent sales tax increase (2 pennies on a $10 purchase) proposal on the ballot. An increase in our local sales tax may not be popular for many given that Clark County businesses compete with sales tax-free Portland for shoppers.
But C-Tran really is faced with its last option to avoid drastic service cuts. It has pared back its costs dramatically over the past few years. The agency has 35 fewer positions than in the 2009-10 budget. It has raised fares four times since 2005. And it has reduced service by a little over 5 percent since 2010 on routes that were identified as “underperforming.”
It should be emphasized that Proposition 1 only funds existing bus service. It does not add routes nor does it fund light rail. For this reason and the essential services C-Tran provides our community, the measure deserves a “yes” vote on Nov. 8.