Ben Franklin Transit’s Board of Directors has put forth two proposals to reduce funding for the agency. Today, leaders from six organizations working in the Tri-Cities region and on statewide advocacy issued the following statements ahead of the vote which is scheduled for Thursday:
“I am disabled, and I depend on Dial-A-Ride to be independent,” said Jaime Torres of Tri-Cities Justice Alliance. “Defunding transit would make it much harder for me and the many other people who depend on transit to remain independent.”

“Bus operators are good, stable, union jobs. This proposal would sabotage them,” said Lisa Stewart, BFT Operator and Steward of the Teamsters Local 839. “Voting to reduce funding would almost certainly result in layoffs, and anyone who supports workers should oppose these proposals.”

“Transit is a primary form of transportation for many seniors in Tri-Cities,” said Kirk Williamson of the Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance. “Young people also rely on transit, and we know it helps people both young and old fully participate in our community. If funding gets cut and service declines, these community members will find it even more difficult to get the services they need.”

“Last summer Washington had a deadly and record-breaking heatwave. Disasters like this are likely going to get more frequent and more intense if we don’t reduce carbon emissions. Transit is part of how we do that,” said Esteban Ortiz of Washington Conservation Voters. “The climate crisis affects all of us and particularly farmers in our region. We need to be increasing transit — not gutting it — if we want to reduce these impacts.”

“This attempt to cut public services is part of a long history of racial and economic injustice,” said Ginger Wireman of Tres Rios Community Land Trust. “These cuts will hurt low-income communities and communities of color first and worst. There is absolutely no question that the people who have proposed these cuts are willfully ignoring its racial implications.”

“Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to Ben Franklin Transit,” said Matthew Sutherland of Transportation Choices Coalition. “These proposed cuts will cost the agency some local revenue — that’s certainly bad. But the cuts would also make Ben Franklin Transit ineligible for millions of dollars in state and federal funding. Voting yes would be disastrous financially and deeply irresponsible on the part of the Board.”
On April 6, Ben Franklin Transit staff shared the likely outcome of these proposed cuts if the Board votes to approve them. According to the agency’s analysis, the cuts would save an average tax paying resident $1.66 per month, but would have outsized financial implications: “Ben Franklin Transit will not be eligible for the estimated annual allocation of Transit Support Grants — estimated at $3.4 million for 2022 and $4.6 million per year for the next 15 years, for a 16-year total amount of approximately $75 million.”

The Board is scheduled to vote on the two proposals at their meeting on Thursday, April 14. Several of the people included in this statement along with many members of the Tri-Cities community expect to testify at that meeting.


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