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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM

No more “Metro to the Mariners”

An ill-advised ban

The Federal Transit Administration has banned King County Metro Transit express bus service following Mariners games because a public-transit agency cannot operate a sports charter if private operators are available to do so [“‘Metro to the Mariners’ service ends,” NW Sunday, April 12].

I submit that this service does not constitute a “charter,” transportation hired by and for one specific group of people. If it were a charter, riders would have to pay for the buses in advance to reserve a ride. It would be available to take people to and from the games.

With a charter, the provider knows in advance how many riders there will be; with Metro express bus service, Metro can only estimate the number of riders. Rather, this service should be thought of as additional routes provided by Metro Transit to serve high-ridership demand. Riders pay their fare only if they choose to ride the bus.

Furthermore, without express buses, there will be a tremendous impact on the environment. If express bus service is not available, more people will choose to drive to Safeco Field. With construction on First Avenue South and on the new I-90 ramps at Royal Brougham Way, think of the added congestion, gas consumption and pollutant emissions due to increased automobile traffic.

Those who don’t drive will have to scramble to use regular buses. Think of 20,000-30,000 waiting late at night for buses running on reduced schedules of their regular routes.

Please contact your senators and representatives to intercede with FTA promptly to get this ill-advised ban lifted.

— Ronald Kaufman, Mercer Island

Citizens have invested in Metro

I would like to encourage the Federal Transit Authority to reverse its policy of prohibiting a public-transit agency from operating a sports charter if private operators are available to provide the same service.

A private Seattle company is available to provide service, but at roughly twice the price of the Metro service. Why should the people of Seattle and Washington be prevented from leveraging the investment they’ve already made in mass transit just so a private concern can have the opportunity to make a profit at the expense of the fans? Keeping the government-run, taxpayer-funded (and Mariners-subsidized) “Metro to the Mariners” service from competing for the right to provide this game-day bus service is restriction of free trade.

I am a big believer in free markets and open competition. If the private sports charter in the Seattle area can provide the same type and quality of service to the ballpark that Seattle Metro can –at the same price — then I will be the first to buy a ticket.

The people of this country are sick and tired of being told to go sit in the back of the bus and give up their seats for corporate interests. Those days are over and FTA needs to get in step with where this nation is going.

This bus is leaving the station.

— Jim McDougal, Everett

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