In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Improving bus service; delayed state capital budget impacting jobs

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Cheers: To improved bus efficiency. Beginning Oct. 23, C-Tran is launching a program allowing buses to drive on the shoulders of state Highway 14 between Interstate 205 and 164th Avenue. “The end goal is to get to a point where our service is efficient as possible and we’re shaving time off that route,” C-Tran spokeswoman Christine Selk said. The program is scheduled to run for 18 months as officials assess its effectiveness.

The plan will not provide relief for the vast majority of commuters who drive themselves along that route, but it could offer some valuable information for dealing with increasing congestion through the area. Ultimately, the needs of commuters will require an expansion of lanes on one of the region’s most congested highways, but for now the C-Tran program is worth a try.

Jeers: To the lack of a capital budget. The Legislature adjourned this year without approving a budget that goes toward construction of schools, mental-health facilities and other necessary projects. The proposed budget — about $4 billion over two years — has broad bipartisan support from lawmakers, but Republicans have declined to consider it until an agreement is reached on the water-rights issue known as the Hirst ruling.

This week, the impact of the impasse was evident as 10 people were laid off from the state parks department. More layoffs are expected as the standoff continues. The Hirst issue, resulting from a state Supreme Court ruling, must be fixed, but it has nothing to do with the capital budget. Holding that budget hostage is damaging to the state.

Cheers: To cleaning up. Volunteers helped clean the shores of Lacamas Lake last weekend, filling three dumpsters with refuse. Among the items: A 24-inch flat screen TV that appeared to be in perfect condition, along with truck tires and several 55-gallon drums.

The cleanup is an annual event that takes place when Georgia-Pacific draws down the lake to inspect dams and perform any necessary maintenance. Lacamas Lake long has served as a popular spot for hiking, boating and swimming, and last week’s event will help keep it in shape for public use throughout the coming year.

Jeers: To impaired driving. A total of 79 fatal crashes in Washington last year involved drivers who had marijuana in their system. That was about twice the number from 2012, before voters approved legalized recreational use of the drug. The numbers, it should be noted, do not indicate whether there has been an increase in impaired driving overall.

The benefits of legalization — undermining the black market, ending nonsensical incarcerations, and providing tax revenue — continue to outweigh the drawbacks, but impaired driving is one of the areas of concern. Motorists must remember that stoned driving is just as dangerous and just as illegal as drunken driving, and education efforts should be stepped up to impress that point upon the public.

Cheers: To exceptional courage. Sunday’s horrific shooting in Las Vegas has been accompanied by many moving accounts of people acting with courage in the face of danger.

One of the most powerful is the story of Dr. James Sebesta from Tacoma. A former Army surgeon who served in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sebesta was at a country music festival when gunshots rang out. He made sure his wife escaped safely and then worked to help those who were injured or wounded. Lacking medical supplies, he improvised, such as turning fence posts into gurneys and performing triage. “This was the most devastating thing that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I could not believe it.”