By reporter Steven Smalley
Damp of rain nor gloom of night would deter 40-50 hearty souls from attending a rally and march late Saturday night to protest planned cuts to Metro buses. With threats around the corner to eliminate up to 17% of bus services in King County, Magnolia Transit Riders, lead by founder James McIntosh, joined forces with Seattle Transit Riders Union for a noisy midnight hike up the Magnolia Bridge with politicians and media in tow.
The march was initially organized to protest elimination of evening bus service in Magnolia. The rally took on a larger significance following subsequent announcements of overall cuts to the system, which attracted a wider range of bus riders from every part of the city.
One speaker remarked to the group which was gathered in the dimly lit Staples parking lot, that public transit needs to expand, “…If we are going to stop global warming and build a sane way of life.”
Undeterred by the rain or late hour, our own King County council member Larry Phillips was on hand to lend his support and encouragement.
“The fight we’ve had to fight for the last few years is nothing compared to what will happen to the system over the course of the next few years,” he stated through a bullhorn given to him by rally leaders. “…If we don’t get relief from Olympia to get us a permanent and progressive source of funds to keep Metro running.”
“Forty three percent of all commuter traffic into downtown Seattle for jobs on a daily basis…those folks ride the bus,” he continued. “Seventeen percent cuts in the future will affect 70% of the riders in King County.”
A bill in Olympia this legislative session to increase car tab fees in King County is expected to pass the House of Representatives. The Senate is a another story, as it is under “different leadership” and may present some resistance, according to legislative sources. In the end, voters may get to decide this fall.
James McIntosh was delighted with the event despite the rain. What began as a modest march through Magnolia, turned into something bigger than he expected. “I was thrilled so many people came out,” he announced.