Opinion

Metro cuts would affect local college students | GUEST COLUMN

The King County Metro funding gap and proposed service cuts are of great concern to the entire region and especially to the students, faculty and staff of area colleges. As the presidents of community and technical colleges, we have followed the transportation funding issues with growing concern. We fear the proposed service cuts to King County Metro Transit will have negative effects on our society and economy.

Our colleges support a fragile population that is deeply reliant on Metro Transit’s service in order to learn English, develop basic skills, train for new jobs and earn a degree. The proposed cuts are different for each school, but the impact on students is the same:

The elimination of one route and the cut back in service for another route serving Cascadia Community College could make the difference between being able to attend college or not for a percentage of students.

The elimination of night service from the only route serving Lake Washington Institute of Technology means that some students will have no way of getting to campus or home.

Students attend our colleges from more than 200 different regional zip codes. Already many students are forced to make two or three transfers to reach campus; some are juggling jobs, child care and other family responsibilities. But the implications of the proposed service cuts go beyond inconvenience. They represent a threat to social equity by restricting a resource needed by our most disadvantaged students to improve their lives.

Community and technical colleges are being championed as a critical resource to the economic vitality of our region and state by helping underserved populations develop the skills needed to gain employment and contribute to our economy rather than depend on social services.

We encourage Metro Transit to revisit its “service guidelines” to include social equity by placing a priority on service to colleges and universities.

Dr. Amy Morrison Goings is president of Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland.

Dr. Eric W. Murray is president of Cascadia Community College in Bothell.

 

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