Opinion

Students at Bellevue College depend on Metro Transit | Other voices

Metro Transit route 271 carries the largest ridership on the Bellevue College campus. - Courtesy Photo
Metro Transit route 271 carries the largest ridership on the Bellevue College campus.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

By David Rule

Metro Transit recently proposed cutting service to the busiest bus stop on the Bellevue College campus as a result of the April 22 voter decision to reject a proposition addressing transit budget shortfalls. BC students tell me this will adversely affect their ability to get to class. The cut affects our college directly, and I also worry about our rapidly growing region, reliant upon the services community colleges such as BC provide. Without readily available transit, many students face one more barrier to higher education – a barrier that may prove to be the final straw for some.

Nearly one in three Bellevue College Students rely on transit to get to and from campus; transit as a commute share has grown nine percent in the last three years. Moreover, one in four of our students has no regular access to a car, and could be described as “transit-dependent.”

Changes to transit on the BC campus include re-routing MT bus 271 – which carries the largest ridership on our campus with over 900 rides daily – to stop on 148th Ave. SE. Stopping on busy 148th will delay bus riders and personal vehicles and lose fare-paying riders. This reroute will put some of our most vulnerable, evening and disabled students at risk as they face a half-mile walk to the new bus stop. Also, many students work multiple jobs and without frequent and reliable service, I fear they may be forced to make hard choices between jobs and education.

Investing in transit service is investing in our future. College students are tomorrow’s skilled workforce and as King County grows we must continue to create opportunities for people to receive a quality education. Most students of Washington’s community and technical colleges are within five-, 10- or 15-minute travel zones, making transit a cost effective way to get to campus as well as freeing up roads for commercial purposes.

Transit fundamentally improves access to higher education. King County’s community colleges rely on transit to get students to school. Our colleges do not stand alone; we rely on our communities and we rely on transit. Without it, we cannot serve students nor meet our region’s workforce needs.

I encourage every citizen to participate in upcoming public hearings on Metro’s proposals and join a vigorous debate that can air all sides of this serious issue.

 

David Rule is president of Bellevue College

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