On Tuesday, May 14, nine Bellevue College students attended a King County Metro Transit hearing at Union Station in Seattle, Wash. to speak out against a proposed 17 percent budget cut currently threatening Metro Transit.
“The county council can’t do anything on this issue,” said Peyton Stever, a student who attended the meeting. “They’re convening this just to show the state legislature how much people care.”
For the past week, Office of Student Legislative Affairs Legislative Director Kristin Velez and Communications Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability Alex Clark have been passing out flyers around campus encouraging students to attend the hearing. The proposed budget cut would affect several BC-serving routes, including the 271, the 221, the 226 and the 245. It was these cuts that drew Associated Student Government Marketing and Public Relations Representative Heidi Yota to the hearing. “I don’t want [Metro] to cut major routes that go through our campus,” said Yota.
At 3:30 p.m., the doors of Union Station opened for an open house. Tables were set up where people could submit written comments and there were displays showing the causes and effects of the different cuts to routes. At 4 p.m., the city council began hearing testimonies from the public.
The testimony room filled quickly, and an overflow room opened, which also filled. According to The Seattle Times, 400 people in total were present. Velez explained the problem with the room overflow: “When we come up for testimony, we’re likely to be redundant. We’re not able to cater to what people have said before, and we won’t be able to tell what progress has been made in terms of questions or responses. We’re not able to be very adaptive.”
Reasons for the outcry over Metro Transit’s budget cuts ranged from convenience and access to higher education to environmentalism and economics. Of all of the students in attendance, only Velez and Clark were able to secure a spot to give testimony, and Clark had to leave to catch the last bus home before his time slot.
“As much as we talk about tuition afford-ability, if we don’t have access, then all of that is mitigated,” said Velez in closing.