We suppose nobody ever really expected this to last forever: That the Sandy Area Metro bus service would stay fareless forever.

Apparently that time has finally come. Soon, the Sandy City Council will hear a recommendation from the Transit Advisory Committee to impose a trip fee. Where that leads is really anyone’s guess. Maybe the City Council will bite the bullet in favor of maintaining the status quo. But don’t count on it.

Sandy’s City Council is almost always wise with its spending. Faced with the realities that the city would lose about $100,000 each year on the bus system, the council almost certainly will impose some level of fare to help offset that expense.

And it should.

The city — and the businesses that pay into a transit fee — shouldn’t be held responsible for shouldering this level of annual expense for commuters. We’ve arrived at a point where it makes sense to ask those who use Sandy’s mass transit to accept a portion of the responsibility for its funding.

What everyone needs to remember is this: If you drive your car to Gresham, you’d spend as much or more on fuel and wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Probably more.

And nowhere else in Oregon can you find a place that offers this level of free public transit.

Sad to lose? Sure.

Understandable? Absolutely.

It’s also important to put SAM into its proper perspective. Like its big brothers — TriMet and MAX — SAM is doing its part to help reduce the amount of carbon emissions we pump into Northwest Oregon’s atmosphere on a daily basis.

The comparative low cost of riding SAM, coupled with the environmental benefits of sharing a ride, combine to help make this proposal palatable.

We think the city would be making a wise decision if it chose to follow the recommendations of the Transit Advisory Committee.

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