Letters to the editor can be sent to Regional Executive Editor Eric Schwartz at eschwartz@yelmonline.com.

Given the obvious effort by Olympia’s city government to tilt the vote on Initiative 976 in their favor, I offer you these alternative comments.

Regardless of the outcome, counties, especially Thurston County, should consider making some changes. 

Let’s merge all the street maintenance departments into one county-wide department, save some funds and do away with the excess management.

Serious thinking is in order to fix the urban transit agencies across the state. This society is growing older and is in serious debt. Any loss of funds should be seen as an opportunity to look at new ideas and give the private sector a chance.

Why? This study from the federal government explains why:

“The lack of personal mobility has economic, social and human costs, such as higher unemployment, reduced tax revenue, greater welfare and medical costs, and limited social potential.”

The Feb. 6, 1915, issue of the Electric Railway Journal reported “518 jitney’s in Seattle … are carrying 49,000 passengers daily.”  

Today regulations make it difficult for private individuals to own and operate a transportation business in many cities.  

There are exceptions. 

In Bergen, New Jersey, a private, profit-making system of small mini-buses exists that charge less than the government-run buses, and run every few minutes. This may reduce carbon emissions and will be less likely to breakdown in an earthquake. 

Here are more examples from other cities.

A study by LEK Consulting titled “On the Buses the Benefits to Private Sector Involvement in the Delivery of Bus Services” notes that “there is strong evidence from Australia and internationally that the private sector can deliver bus services more cost effectively than government operators. Around the world unit cost savings on transition from public to private operations have ranged from 20 percent to as high as 55 percent.” 

“In Melbourne all bus services are run by the private sector … services are spread across more than 16 separate operators.”

The solutions are available. All we have to do is look.

Michael H. Wilson


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